A Short and Sweet Request

From time to time I get an inquiry from a couple who say they are looking for a ‘short and sweet’ wedding ceremony. This raises a few questions, along with a few answers.

First of all, I’m thinking perhaps they have never attended a good ceremony, so they are looking to avoid something long, or something that seems long because it is so boring. And on the flip side, they may not fully realize the importance of taking the time to recognize this milestone.

I’m certainly down with the ‘sweet’ part, but short is a relative term. If you are getting married in some unusual way, let’s say, sky diving or snorkeling, then just a quick ‘I do’ is probably what is needed.  Other than that, I don’t believe 10 minutes is enough. I’m also not a fan of a ceremony that would take morethan 30 – 45 minutes is way too long for people to stay interested, and that includes the couple themselves. If you can’t say all the important things that need to be said in about a ½ hour, the officiant needs an editor.

Every guest should understand what this day means to you -  emphasis on ‘you,’ because it’s your wedding. You should not have to settle for something that doesn’t express who you truly are and what your commitment means. When you and/or your guests neither understand nor care about what’s going on, it certainly isn’t a positive experience. If you’ve ever attended a long ceremony in any context where you didn’t know what the heck was happening, you know what I mean.

In most houses of worship, you really are there for that: to worship – and however long that takes, is what it takes. The wedding part is sometimes simply added in, or there could be a specific litany for weddings, but it will always include lots of praying, which definitely takes some time. I’m not against praying, not at all, and everyone is free to pray or not to pray, whenever they want to. In America we still have freedom of – and from – religion, and this has actually allowed religion to flourish.  We are free to worship as we choose, when we choose, or not. But is a wedding the time for this? Yes and no – it doesn’t have to be. Obviously if a couple is religious, they may well choose a worship service, but for many people, even people of faith, they prefer a celebration of their marriage.

When I explain all this to couples they are often very excited. It’s a good feeling to be able to have a ceremony that recognizes who you are and where you are going. It is especially important for couples of different traditions or world views. Many officiants of all types, understand this. Talk to the person you are thinking about having perform your marriage ceremony and see if they are open to expressing all of that. For me, as a Celebrant, that’s what it’s all about, but I certainly don’t have a monopoly on it.

Telling your personal story in your vows is the only way some people get that customization they are looking for into their ceremony, but I caution you to remember that the vow is really your promise to one another, not your life story. Don’t talk about all how you met as part of your vows.  However, a few little additives can add a lot of flavor.

With a very short ceremony you miss out on some important opportunities. Will you be able to thank family and friends for supporting you, or honor parents, children, siblings or others who have helped you along in your journey? How about remembering those who are deceased? Mentioning a grandparent or grandparents who have passed may not be at the top of your list, it could mean a lot to your parents.  Remembering your own parents is profound. What about including personal details about your personalities, your love story or just simply what you love about one another? These are all things I explore when creating ceremonies. Having charming details about the couple and their community adds so much depth, and is even, sometimes, fun! How about a shout-out to your dog?

Short and sweet is a relative term, and I hope you get all the sweetness you deserve but don’t give it the short shrift.

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Navigating Social Media for Your Wedding

Many of us are addicted to social media. I recognize that in many ways I am as well. How do we draw the line between using it and abusing it? How do we decide how much social media to use for a wedding?  Some? None? Tons? Here are some thoughts on the subject.

UNPLUGGED WEDDINGS

Unplugging for the ceremony is a must! As a celebrant I am keenly aware of how people look at or play with their phones when they should be ‘in the moment.’ I get it, it is truly an addiction. And that is exactly why you should, in no uncertain terms, ask everyone to turn them off and put them away. If you have a professional photographer (and I hope you do, it’s one of the best investments you can make) let them capture the ceremony visually. If you do not have a professional photographer simply designate one or two people to take the pictures. But please, please, do not allow everyone to use their phones during the ceremony. Afterwards – have a blast taking those selfies and other videos and photos.

Cassie Cook Photography

HASHTAGS

Many couples create their own hashtag so all the photos on any platform, tagged with their unique tag, can be gathered together. If you choose to do a hashtag, don’t forget to check to be sure someone else isn’t using the same one. A unique hashtag is the way to go.

INFORMATION SHARING

Social media is great for sharing information about any event. Many couples have wedding websites that can be very helpful … but not everyone is media savvy. Do not expect all of your guests to have all the information if you ONLY send it via social media or even email. They are your guests, I’m assuming you know them pretty well, so be sure those who are not as ‘connected’ get a piece of paper or phone call with all the details, such directions, places to stay, or anything else they might need.

I’ve seen lots of wedding websites with almost nothing of value. Make sure you have meaningful content if you are going to bother having a website. Directions, things to do, places to stay, how to dress, what to expect, times, locations, photos and other tidbits will make it worthwhile. Otherwise, skip it. You don’t have to have a wedding website!

POSTING PHOTOS
Please do NOT post any photos of the couple before they have had the opportunity. This is bad form. Sure, put up a photo of yourself looking amazing in your best clothes, but don’t spoil the chance for the couple to share their imagines first. I know it’s frustrating to wait for the professional photos (which sometimes take quite a while) but it will be worth it. Besides, you may not have captured their best side, again, that’s where the professionals come in.

Photo: Allure Productions

RESTRAINT

If possible, encourage your guests even at the receptionto try to stay off of social media. It’s so much better to be talking to one another, listening to the toasts, enjoying the music, the food, the dancing, the fun, rather than to have your head in your phone. I know it’s hard to say this, but you might ask your DJ or band-leader to mention it a few times and you will be off the hook.

LIVE STREAMING 

I have had several weddings with family members living far, far away. Live streaming the ceremony made it wonderful for them. They got to see and hear their loved ones getting married even though they were unable to be there in person. Keep this in mind for those who can’t travel, and let your officiant know it’s happening so she or he won’t think something strange is going on.

Overusing social media makes your special day less special. A wedding is many things, but it is not a show. Although there are many great ‘visuals’ involved – the flowers, the clothing, the décor, and so much planning goes into it, it is still an important milestone in life. Keep the meaning of the day foremost in your mind.

Oh, and please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest –  hashtag #LoisHeckmanCelebrant and tag @LoisHeckmanCelebrant.

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When it rains… it pours!

The all-important rain plan

It’s been a very rainy summer here in the Poconos. Some days its rained three or four times, on and off, and other days non-stop. One minute it’s sunny and the next it’s pouring. I wrote about all this years ago, and it was, for the most part, theory, but this summer has brought many a situation, or as I think of it – ‘calls to action.’  Here’s some examples.

While at a location that was not ready for it, a huge storm was coming. It was already sprinkling that morning, and ceremony time was set for exactly when it would hit big-time. What to do? Even the out-door gazebo was not a good option. Ok for the couple but not all the guests. So, bring it inside, right? Fortunately, there was an indoor space, but it was hardly ceremony-ready.

Here’s the ‘call to action.’  I asked one of the bridesmaids to quickly go and pick up  lots and lots of white candles of various sizes. We found some side tables and a small, pretty area rug – and voila! An altar area to stage the ceremony was quickly created. It actually looked quite beautiful, thanks mostly to the candles. Most important, however, was that the couple was happy; and even more happy where their guests, especially older folks who didn’t want to brave the extreme elements.

After the ceremony, with a few umbrellas, an energetic bridal party went outside for photos.

This was exactly as I always imaged it. And it worked! Naturally when I am officiating at a resort, they already have a backup plan, and a very good one indeed. But if you are planning a backyard wedding or any outdoor ceremony without a really good plan for rain, you must think this through.

While a covered space, like a tent or pavilion will definitely work in a light rain, what about a storm? Here’s another story. A few years ago, I officiated at a farm venue. They had a good plan – a tent with roll-down sides at their ceremony site, but a storm rolled in, and it was a big one! The sides of the tent were blowing, and it became impossible to keep the sides tied down, letting in the howling wind and rain. The sound of the storm was also a problem. It got cold. We made the best of it, of course, and in a small way, it was kind of fun, or at least memorable. Stuff happens and even to the most prepared. You just have to roll with it.

When I get calls from couples asking me to officiate at locations such as state parks, waterfalls and other outdoor locales, I always ask: what’s your rain plan? Many people have not given this any thought.

At an outdoor ceremony, when weather threatens, I always give everyone a heads-up on how we’ll proceed – just in case. Knowing there’s a plan definitely helps their stress level. A few weeks ago, we had to make a dash from outside to inside right in the middle of the ceremony. As we made our way inside to resume I spoke to the distraught couple, suggesting they think of this was their first challenge in marriage. How they handle this – with humor and grace – will set a good tone for all their guests and for themselves. There will be much bigger challenges in marriage than rain.

As I have advocated many times, over the years – HAVE A RAIN PLAN! And remember that you are planning for more than a wedding, you are planning a marriage. And buy a nice big umbrella.

 

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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The Goldilocks Wedding

If you remember the childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she had to find the bed that wasn’t too soft or too hard, but just right, and the porridge that wasn’t too hot or too cold, but just right, and the same can be said for weddings. How do you figure out the Goldilocks wedding for you!

I’ve been hearing the term ‘micro-wedding’ lately and started using it because it’s a way to distinguish between a small wedding, which could include 40, 50 or even 75 guests, and an even smaller one with, let’s say, 10 or 20 guests, give or take. Another term I hear is ‘intimate’ wedding, although that doesn’t necessarily always coordinate to the number of guests. I don’t think size is the only element that makes a wedding intimate.

It’s important that couples have the wedding they want to have – the wedding that expresses who they are, and without undue stress, not to mention the wedding they can afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a big, beautiful wedding, and I officiate them often. I enjoy getting dressed up, sharing the couple’s story with so many guests! A big wedding is often a dream come true.  You may have a big family or even two big families coming together. A large wedding, meaning well over 100 guests – and I’ve officiated some that have as many as 200 or 250 or more -  is full of pomp-and-circumstance – lots of traditions. It can fit your style and doesn’t necessarily have to be formal when it’s a big crowd. Maybe you just enjoy a party, and great, big party! Many people find a larger wedding very glamorous.

The average size guest list today is 150. When planning your numbers, whatever size, remember between 10 and 20% will not be able to attend.

I just spoke with someone who told me about his daughter’s big beautiful wedding. They chose to do cocktail stations instead of a sit-down meal, so everyone could mix and mingle. I love this idea. It is sometimes uncomfortable to be placed at a table with people you don’t know or with whom you can’t seem to connect. The story continued with how they, the parents, had high school friends, college friends, relatives, and the couple themselves had the same – friends and family from far and wide – all connecting and catching up, and it was fantastic.  A big wedding is one of those rare opportunities to check in with all kinds of people who live far away or with whom you may have lost touch but still hold a place in your heart.

And that is exactly how guest lists get so large, and it can be very difficult to cut that back. That is why some couples choose notthe middle ground, of maybe 50 or 75 people, but to keep it extremely tiny, or micro. If you can’t go huge, go tiny! A wedding with very few guests might include parents and siblings only, or just a few friends – the micro-wedding – solves the ‘who to cut’ problem. Anther choice for couples with children is to just have the kids be a part of the nuptials – and that’s it!

And then there is elopement – the ultimate in not dealing with who to invite and who not to invite. There are so many good reasons to elope and I’ve written about it before, but just briefly those reasons include: avoiding stress, personal style, financial choices, intimacy and expediency. But in today’s article, it’s definitely about who to invite and who note to invite.

Whatever you decide for your wedding I hope you find the perfect Goldilocks size that is ‘just right!’

 

 

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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Why Get Married?

I write a lot about weddings, but a wedding is merely the first step and symbolic transition in something bigger: marriage.  And while I love weddings and creating wedding ceremonies rich with meaning, it is the lifetime that follows that matters most.

There’s a beautiful poem by Marge Piercy, an author I’ve always enjoyed, called Why Marry at All?  The piece addresses overcoming old constraints of marriage that limited a woman’s role in life, and celebrating the more modern idea of standing together through life’s challenges as equals. It’s a point of view I agree with completely. Because marriage, like all societal constructs, has evolved and grown. And this is a good thing.

The institution of marriage probably predates recorded history. Most ancient cultures valued a wife only as property, an idea that held on far too long. Over time, however, both religious organizations and governments began to set out rights and obligations between the spouses. Different religions and cultures have different interpretations of this, but all agreed that intimate relations and procreation were an expected part of the union. Lovebetween the couple came to be valued much later, really only in modern times.

Today most people choose whether or not to have children, and couples that do not want, or cannot have children, are not shunned, but live a happily married life. Over-population of the planet should figure into this equation as well, although that discussion seems to have disappeared.

When women no longer have to depend on marriage for survival, why would a woman want to get married? In the 1970’s feminists began asking this very question and many rejected the institution. But ultimately the bond of love between two people is more powerful than social forces left or right. And so, feminists, too, chose marriage. People just naturally want to pair-up; most people do not want to be alone.

I believe in marriage because, at its healthiest and best, it creates a place of safety, where two people can grow, as individuals and as a couple. It has proven to promote longevity, stability, health and wellbeing. It also provides legal benefits including tax, social security, employment, medical, family, housing and other types of legal rights that vary from state to state. I’ve officiated quick elopements for many a military couple, needing the legal status so their partner could live on the base, and marriages for people dealing with immigration issues. There are couples who need health insurance of their partner, or the right to make medical decisions. And I’ve officiated for countless love-struck young couples who are yearning for a lifetime of happiness.

I’ve officiated for gay couples who have spent over 20 or 30 years together and finally got to make it official. I support marriage equality because it’s obvious to me that gay and lesbian couples deserve all the same legal, spiritual, social, and emotional benefits of marriage, and I’m so happy they got that. Let’s hope we don’t lose those rights.

Today, marriage is better than ever! Couples I speak with are very committed to equality and see their relationships as true partnerships.

When I am creating a wedding ceremony I am celebrating not only the love of the two people who brought us all together for that purpose, but the institution itself.

 

 

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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The Common Threads of Finding Love

I’m always intrigued by the New York Times section calls ‘Vows.’ They have a sweet way of sharing a little bit about each couple’s story. Good writing!  When reading these vignettes, I often recognize commonalities with the couples I work with. Common threads, so to speak.

We all like to think we’re unique, but truth be told, we are more alike than we are different, and the search for love is certainly something most of us have in common.

I thought I’d explore some of these similarities, drawn from the hundreds of couples who shared their stories with me. I especially love hearing how they found one another. My intent is not to make people feel less special, it is simply true that there are only so many stories in this world, and I think Shakespeare probably wrote all of them. I’ve read there are only six or seven types of stories anyway.

Looking at the accounts of how people found their soul-mate, I think Joseph Campbell, author and ‘mythologist’ got it right when he identified the ‘hero’s journey.’ For each of us, our personal journey can be epic.

On-line introductions

There are the stories of how it was absolutely the last time someone would stay on the dating site… they’d had it, done, finished… and then, thatmessage came in.

Then there are those who said they would never do on-line dating, but their best friend/ sister/ mother/ coworker convinced them to try, and the very first person they connected with turned out to be ‘the one’.

Joseph Campbell wroteComputers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.I would add that sometimes the ending makes it all worthwhile.

The story of dating the other one first

They met through mutual friends, but it was complicated. One or both were in relationships, but once they connected they knew it was only a matter of time until they would be together.

Then there are the tales of dating the sibling/cousin/twin (yes twin!) a few years back, but always liking the other one better. Fast forward and they run into one another at a bar/ice cream shop/ grocery store/ beach, and BOOM!

Joseph Campbell, again: The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

Childhood sweethearts

Never forget him/her. Married then divorced or widowed, and decided to look up the old flame on Facebook, and the story begins. Again, as Joseph Campbell puts it: We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

On love

When I ask people what love about one another, almost all couples speak about their partner being their best friend. I find this inspiring and hopeful. Another common denominator is how much they value one another and support one another. Laughter is often mentioned, and how much couples enjoy spending time together doing anything, everything or even nothing.

No matter how different the couple may appear to others, whether being of diverse nationalities, religions, or ethnicities, they speak of how they complement one another. Whether the reference point is Yin and Yang, Lucy and Ricky,or Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. This is sometimes called the ‘other half,’ or even ‘soul-mate.’

Once more, Campbell:The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.And this relates to my final, and most important point. It’s beautiful to hear couples tell me their partner loves them for who they truly are. All of them, flaws and all.

We humans need love in our lives. Almost everyone wants a life partner who supports them, listens to them, and values them. No matter how you met that person, I’m glad you did.

 

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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Seeking understanding of world religions

Over the years I have written about many cultural and religious traditions. Along with Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, I’ve written about Sikhs, Shintoism and Paganism. I’ve often explored Celtic customs, which I have found to be especially great for weddings, and Eastern European traditions, Native American, and various Hispanic traditions.

The subject comes up often for me when I have a bride or groom who would like to honor their heritage in their wedding ceremony. I may know a lot about their traditions, and other times I need to do some research – and this has become one of the most enriching parts of my work as a Celebrant.

Just a little touch will go a long way. For a recent ceremony I created for a Sikh groom and Polish bride I included a quote from his religion and a ritual from hers. That was enough for them, emphasis on ‘them,’ because a wedding should be a reflection of the couple.

I wanted to explore a religion we don’t hear about very much and given that there are about 4,300 religions around the world, that shouldn’t be difficult.

The world’s 20 largest religions and their number of believers are:

  1. Christianity (2.1 billion)
  2. Islam (1.3 billion)
  3. Nonreligious (Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.1 billion)
  4. Hinduism (900 million)
  5. Chinese traditional religion (394 million)
  6. Buddhism 376 million
  7. Primal-indigenous (300 million)
  8. African traditional and Diasporic (100 million)
  9. Sikhism (23 million)
  10. Juche (19 million)
  11. Spiritism (15 million)
  12. Judaism (14 million)
  13. Bahai (7 million)
  14. Jainism (4.2 million)
  15. Shinto (4 million)
  16. Cao Dai (4 million)
  17. Zoroastrianism (2.6 million)
  18. Tenrikyo (2 million)
  19. Neo-Paganism (1 million)
  20. Unitarian-Universalism (800,000)

Let’s take number 13 from this list: Bahai, or more accurately, Bahá’í.  This is one of the world’s newest religions. Started around the same time as Mormonism, which began in 1830 –  Bahá’í was founded in Persia in 1844, when a Muslim prophet, who took on the title of the Báb which means ‘gate’ or ‘door’ in Arabic, began a revolutionary new teaching about spirituality. He taught moral transformation, women’s emancipation and the importance of helping the poor. The religion leans towards the mystical side, focusing on a person’s relationship with the unknowable essence of God and recommends daily prayer and meditation. It’s quite a beautiful philosophy, encouraging its followers to be kind, generous, truthful, and to have integrity and to be of service to others. Bahá’í also teaches the unity of all religions.

For a Bahá’í wedding the only requirement is a reading from their scriptures, which both partners read, that says: We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God. Two witnesses are present, and the wedding is recorded in their records of their house of worship.

Unfortunately for all its seemingly progressively ideas, this religion is vehemently opposed LGBT rights, marriage and expression throughout its entire existence (and they aren’t letting up).

The name Bahá’í comes from the Arabic word for Glory. They use the symbol of a nine-pointed star, along with a calligraphic rendering of the phrase ‘God is most glorious’ as a beautiful graphic. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but those are some of the basics as I have come to understand them.

Whatever your background or belief system, everyone deserves to have their wedding reflect their personalities, families and traditions. It will always be worth it – even when it takes some research and effort.

  

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Brides and their Fathers

                     It used to be called ‘giving away the bride.’

Last week I wrote about brides and their mothers. Today let’s talk about brides and their fathers.

First up – giving away the bride! Many a father and daughter have imagined this moment for a very long time, in a sweet and positive way. Dad walking his daughter down the aisle! It’s an ancient tradition with roots in patriarchy and ownership of women; but hey, we all get that it no longer means any of that!

But let’s remember that not every bride has a father in her life, or at least one she wants to be a part of her wedding day. And if your father is deceased, this can be a very emotional topic.  I’m always touched to see a bride or groom carry something representing a deceased parent.

There are many variables that might lead a bride to re-think this age-old tradition, although I admit, it’s very difficult to break old customs. Many women have not given this much thought and assume they will have a male escort, choosing an uncle, brother or grandfather when there is no father to accompany her. That’s fine. That’s nice. But it’s not required. There are no hard and fast rules around this, and that is my point. Bottom line: a bride does not have to have a man escort her. She might want someone, male or female, but it’s not a requirement.

The age of the bride can be a factor. Perhaps in your 20’s you may still feel a bit like ‘daddy’s little girl,’ but there comes a time when a grown-up woman just wants to walk by herself. This can be especially true for re-marriages. It was good the first time but seems out of place for a second time around.

When the bride has children, she may prefer to walk in with them. Or a woman may want to walk with her mother. And my favorite thing – with both parents in the picture, why not have both parents escort?

If your loving papa is around and you are choosing not to have him escort you – how do you tell him? The answer is carefully and at the right moment. And that moment should be sooner, not later – don’t wait until it’s too late – you must approach this very early on in the wedding planning, otherwise assumptions are made, and it will be hard to un-do that.

It will be helpful if you have another role in mind for dad, such as a reading or toast at the reception. You can tie that in with the not-so-good news. Think carefully about the words you choose and make it clear this isn’t about him, but about your independence.

For women who are being escorted by dad, a big moment in need of consideration is when arriving at the altar, with the groom waiting there, what is said, what is done? Some fathers want to plop their daughter’s hand into the hand of the groom. Not my favorite thing, but I certainly won’t forbid it (I wouldn’t forbid anything). And there’s the ‘who gives this woman?’ part, too. Again, I’m not a fan, but I have a better way to say this – and that is asking the dad ‘do you support your daughter in marriage today and welcome so-and-so into the family?’ To which he gets to respond with an ‘I do.’ You can do this with moms and with both parents.

Complicating matters further is the stepfather situation, and it is a very common scenario. Sometimes a step-father or father-figure has played a bigger role in someone’s life than their biological father. You may still want to honor your bio-dad, if you’re in a good or decent relationship, that is. Both fathers can escort you, or one can escort ½ way and ‘hand you off’ to the other for the final walk to the altar. That may sound odd, but it can work.

A few words about grooms. Obviously, this isn’t the same kind of issue for men due to the whole ‘ownership’ history. But interestingly, men are going in the opposite direction, and that is walking with a parent or parents as they enter the ceremony. I love this, and thinking about the language and context, regardless if it’s a bride or groom, you might ask: are parents escorting you, or are you escorting them? Depending on how you think of it, it takes on a slightly different meaning. Let’s just say it’s nice to enter the sanctuary together.

There are many nuances to ceremony, and even before any words are said, the choreography, the entrances, and movements, have meaning and importance. Take the time to think through what was once a given and see if a revamp is right for you.

  

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the always awesome photography

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Mothers and Daughters – 5 tips to smooth the way when planning your wedding together.

In the good old days (whenever that was) mothers planned their daughters’ weddings and had almost complete control over everything. These days, brides and couples often take the lead in creating their own celebrations. But we should not forget that a wedding is a hallmark of enormous change and that is why moms (and dads) often have a lot to say about it. They may also feel like they are losing their son or daughter, and it can be unconsciously upsetting and sad. Marriage will bring out a range of emotions for everyone involved.

Today I specifically address mother-daughter issues. It has been written about countless times, and become a bit of a modern-day cliché, but mothers and daughters do often fight. Especially during the teenage years, which I hope are well behind you; but sometimes wounds linger.

To further complicate the situation, if mom is paying for the wedding, it bestows power on her. But do not fret – there are ways to find common ground.

Brides, you don’t want to turn into bridezilla, and moms. you certainly don’t want to be the mother or mother-in-law from hell. With a little pro-active thoughtfulness, you should be able to not only survive wedding planning but enjoy it together.

Here are some suggestions for mothers and daughters to help smooth the way.

  1. The to-do list.Get to this very early in the process. Discuss which responsibilities will be assigned to whom, and which areas will be collaborative. Remember there should be no hard-and-fast rules. Should a task become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to ask each other for help. Mothers, ask what your daughter might especially needs help with, and daughters ask you mother which details she feels especially drawn to. Even if you know each other well – don’t make assumptions. Asking is a sign of respect and will help ease tensions. Even ask about obvious things. Statements such as ‘would you like me to go with you to look at dresses?’ instead of ‘let’s look at dresses tomorrow,’ will make a difference.
  1. Discuss the budget, and approach it with a sense of values. Try not to lose sight of what really matters.
  1. Have some ‘big picture’discussions about marriage. Daughters – share your hopes for the future with your mother; mothers – share stories of your wedding with your daughter. You are sure to find things to laugh about, cry about, and learn from.
  1. Time to grow up.Mothers, if you don’t already do so, there will never be a better time to begin treating your daughter like an adult. Likewise, daughters, you must now respect your mother as you would a friend. Leave old wounds behind and approach the planning with the respect you would give a friend or co-worker. Sometimes we treat those closest to us with less care than strangers. Don’t let this be the case. Brides, realize this is a big day for everyone, not just you! Mothers, no matter how difficult, be the cheerleader, and lead with grace. You will set the tone for family unity and happiness for years to come.
  1. Let it go. When conflicts arise, ask yourself honestly how important this issue actually is before an argument ensues. The aspects of the wedding that are most important to you are certainly worth ‘fighting for,’ but compromises should be made as well.

Taking the time to think about these and other potential danger zones will help ensure an easier process in one of life’s biggest transitions. Good luck!

  

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the always awesome photography

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Love at any age …

Let’s talk about marriage when the couple is over a certain age. What age? Good question. Over 40? Over 50? Over 60? Yes, all of the above. There is no expiration date on love.

After divorce or loss of a spouse some people are not interested in finding another life partner. Others know they need to be paired up. We’re all different. But one thing I have learned from working with older couples, is there can sometimes be a hesitancy to fully celebrate this milestone. It might be because of children, or just the perception of being judged by society.

But when you find love, no matter what stage of life, it is wonderful, and regardless of previous relationships, marriage is an important rite of passage. Having said that, I do agree, it can, and dare I say ‘should’ be less extravagant.  There are ways to tone it down, when it’s not the first time around. Here are few things to think about.

If there are children, even adult children, it’s great to include them in various ways. Your kids can walk down the aisle with you – both partners – there is no need to confine this to a bride. A man can walk with his children as well. You might ask teen or adult children to share readings in the ceremony. Holding the rings is tried and true. And more creatively, how about having them say their own ‘I do’ in support of the new marriage or new step-siblings, and conversely you can say an ‘I do’ to them, pledging your continued love and support even as the family changes. This is especially important if the children still live at home.

Keeping it less formal feels right. A luncheon instead of a dinner, or a buffet instead of a sit-down meal, keeps is so.

You’re free to not wear tuxedos and gowns, and that can be quite a relief. You are also free from having to choose bridesmaids and groomsmen. Really not necessary at this stage. Maybe just have one best person each, or again, the children can stand with you…. or not.

Your vows might take a different tone at this stage in life. They might include words about the importance of having found love again, and how hopeful it is to find a partner in life. You may want to acknowledge the long road to where you are. You are mature now and you understand what marriage means.

And then there is elopement. I recently officiated for a couple who didn’t want to deal with the whole family scene, yet still had all the beautiful details including live music, photographer and videographer, a beautiful location and me – and that’s it! No guests. It was awesome.

Young love can be breathless, but older love has depth. Celebrate that!

  

photo credits: Garth Woods

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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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