The ceremony was about to start and I was standing under the arch with the ocean behind me when the videographer walked up and asked to check the recording device that he put in my inside jacket pocket. This wasn’t a normal mic that videographers give me where it fits into my pocket and then the mic clips to the outside of my jacket. No, this thing was huuuugggghheee!

He never planned on me having to wear this recording device. He was going to plug it into the sound system and record my voice that way, but 2 mins before I walked down the sand aisle, he asked me to put it in my pocket because he lost faith in the sound system.

It was clunky and big (as seen in the photo), and it barely fit in my pocket It reminded me of when I was a little kid and I dressed up as He-Man for halloween by stuffing socks in my shirt. The couple wanted everything recorded and even though I could have refused this pocket stuffer, I knew I had to try everything I could to preserve this wedding day for them.

So when the Videographer came back up to me and listened to the recording, I knew that the situation had grown to full crisis mode by the look on his face. Because the device was in my pocket, it recorded all the times it rubbed against the cloth of my jacket, which created a scratching sound in the recording.

Wanting to be helpful, I offered to hold it exactly how you see in the photo. I had the book in my left hand, with the recorder on top, stabilized with my thumb, while in my other hand was the actual microphone. This setup worked fine for most of the ceremony. There were a few awkward moments. When they were speaking their vows, instead of closing my book and holding it to the side, I keep it open and in front of me so that the device could pick up their voices. Also, when I ask for the rings, usually I close my book and place it under my arm and then hold the rings in my left hand, but since I couldn’t get rid of the recorder which was still on the book, I had to improvise.

Holding the device only caused a few minor inconveniences, but it was better for me to bare that burden instead the couple not being able to have audio for their video of the ceremony. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but wedding ceremonies aren’t about me, right? For weddings, you do whatever you can to make the day special for the couple.

Oh, also, the coordinator wanted me to pick up a bubble machine and turn it on as they walked out the aisle at the end of the ceremony. You can say that my hands were full on Saturday.

But let me leave you with my favorite part. They did their own vows, and one of the grooms started listing a few things that he loves doing with the other. It was a light and funny list that brought laughter and deep sighs. It brought me into their relationship and I was able to feel the joy of their friendship. But then he said, “these [what I just listed] are things I love about our relationship, but these are not the reasons I love you.” Then he had this dramatic pause, before continuing while his eyes began to swell with water, “I love you because you’re always there for me, because…” and then he went on and on with a most beautiful list that unfortunately I can’t remember because I was so focused on juggling a book, microphone, recorder, and bubble machine!

Not Teens Anymore

“You first met me when I was just a teen and didn’t know what love was at the time. We both knew that we saw something in each other but we were not mature enough at the time to understand it….”

Excepts from her vows a week ago.

As they were first telling me their story, I was a little uncomfortable. Not because she went to Starbucks to meet up with his friend and how she instantly know that it was him who she wanted to get to know instead.

It was her lying about her age. 😬

You see she was 14 and he was 5 years older. Once he found out and realized that this definitely wouldn’t work out, he broke it off. They did remain distant friends, sometimes staying in touch while other times not…that is until 4 years ago (over 15 years later.)

I remember sitting down to write their ceremony and spent a lot of time contemplating how do I address the origins of their relationship, but once I started writing, it flowed pretty easy, because they’re such a great couple.

In middle of her vows, she thanked his parents and grandparents for creating such a generous and chivalrous man.

And he is. And she’s super incredible as well. As I heard their whole story and how they’ve been each other’s strength and motivation, it was hard not to like these two. 

One part of their story that I admire and respect so much is their path to sobriety. It was so moving to hear them talk about doing it together… about the support and strength they have with each other. It’s powerful to hear stories of transformation. To me they’ve become a source of inspiration. Anyone who is struggling with addiction, here is beam of hope, a ray of light.

They’ve really created a beautiful life together and I’m so grateful to have had the privilege of marrying them. 

***Side note: here’s me sitting down taking a selfie before the ceremony starts. I like to get to the wedding venue an hour before the start time, so there’s often a lot of waiting around 

Lime Officiant

If you were driving around last week in Palos Verdes and thought you saw me riding 15mph down the road in a lime scooter with my suit on and briefcase over my shoulder, know that your eyes were not deceiving you.

Abalone Cove’s parking lot was closed and the nearest parking was a mile away at Terrenea Resorts.

What else was I to do?

I downloaded the app, put some money in the account, and unlocked the scooter.

Unfortunately the battery ran out with .2 miles left, so I did have to walk a little there, and then also trek down the dirt path to the ocean.

After the elopement, I walked the mile back to my car, but it was a beautiful day, so I can’t complain 

Extra Mile

I’ll let you in on a little inside joke…

This is a thank you note from a couple that I married this morning. Originally, we were supposed to meet up yesterday morning at the Observatory, but the park has been working on the roads and the building so everything was closed off these last three days

They asked to push their elopement back a day, which worked for me. I mean, what else am I going to be doing at 5:30 in the morning???

The Park opened the sidewalk for pedestrian this morning, so we had to park at the bottom of the hill and hike up to the Observatory.

There was literally (and I’m using that word in a literal sense) nobody else up there, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

So when they write “Thank you for (literally) going the extra mile for us”….

Well, you get that joke now 


High School Love

There is this tradition at Montebello High School for every home football game where each player (if he has the courage) goes up to a girl during school and asks if she would wear his jersey to the next home game. If the girl accepts, she wears the jersey for the game and then gives it back to him the next week.

Usually guys will give it to their girlfriend, a friend, or people they know.

Well, this guy always liked this one girl since middle school, but because he was shy, he had barely spoken a word to her over the years.

One day after working up the courage, he walks up to her at school, with his jersey in hand, and asks her if she would wear his jersey for the game. She thought it was a little weird that someone who never speaks to her would ask her this, but she accepts and wore it to the game…

however, she didn’t know that she was supposed to give it back afterwards…

so she kept it.

He wasn’t going to ask for it back!

Oh no, he definitely wasn’t going to ask for it!

So she wore it the next two weeks.

On the third week, he sees her walking up to him. He thinks that she is coming to return it, and that she has finally realized how this jersey thing works. But instead of giving it back, she asks him for his away jersey too!

and so he gives it to her 🙂

When we met for coffee last year, she told me that there was a moment in High School before they were dating when she contemplated walking away from pursuing this relationship. She knew he liked her, but it was so hard to get him to speak. He barely said a word.

Obviously she didn’t make that choice and here we are this weekend, celebrating their marriage.

I can’t tell you how much I love to hear these high school stories. They’re so awkward and funny. They’re full of insecurities and ignorance. There’s vulnerability and pretension. It’s a good reminder that there’s something beautiful in the weird and the uncomfortable. That those moments where you’re in over your head, can produce something astonishing.

I married another couple this weekend. Instead of a large ceremony, it was just an elopement. We met at a bench near the Santa Monica Pier and as we sat on the bench, looking at the ocean, I married them.

The ceremony didn’t have any vows, because they were firm believers that vows were meant to be lived. There were no rings exchanged, because they are already bonded together.

For me, there was something romantic about that moment, sitting on the bench where they used to frequent early in their relationship, legalizing something that has already been established over the years.

They didn’t need spoken vows for me for their commitment to felt and experienced. They didn’t need promises, because they know what they get with each other. They really didn’t even need me, but I was happy to be there 🙂

I had married one other couple this weekend. It was another elopement, but this one had as many dogs as it did humans! There were 4 dogs and 4 friends. Throw in the geese and their chicks at Echo Park lake and us humans were completely out numbered.

Maybe the story of that elopement should be saved for another time…

Hair Gel

I may have said to the bride, “wow, I don’t think I put enough gel in my hair today.”

It was so windy at the beach yesterday that I felt like this couple hired a mad scientist to officiate their elopement.

After I said that, she gave me a look that made me realize this…

She doesn’t care!

That’s right! She’s getting married to the love of her life and so the flow of my hair doesn’t matter. Lol

His hair was flipping around in the wind too and guess what???

It didn’t matter either!

So many things don’t matter. Who has time to worry about the inconsequential?

What did matter was where I was standing. I was on a cliff, very close to an edge. The wind was so strong that I could feel the pressure against my body.

But as I continued with the ceremony, I lost track of where I was standing. It wasn’t until everything was over and I was walking away that I contemplated how a movement one way or another would be met with a hard fall.

But it’s okay. At least I was worrying about my hair!

A Greystone Mansion Wedding

“What chance does a chubby 12 year old nerd, like me, have to be with the most beautiful girl in school? No chance!”

I stood there Monday night, listening to more lines from some beautiful vows. Every time he would talk about his love for her or his commitment, she would let out this noise. It’s a noise that is difficult to describe, because half of it seemed to originate out of being surprised and shocked that he actually loves her. The other half stemmed from one’s heart receiving such intense and warm love that it begins to melt. It was definitely endearing.

One of her lines went like this:

“For a man with a few words, ‘I love you’ are 3 words you never forget to say, and your actions show your love to me every single day.” 

I didn’t need her words to tell me what a quality guy he was. I could just tell. There were a few different scenes that impressed me, but I only have space for one:

Before the ceremony started, all the 8 of the photographers and videographers were trying to get him to take more photos. That’s a lot of pressure to continue taking photos. You haven’t seen this then imagine 8 grown men (throw in a few women in there too, but today was all men), telling you, “just one more shot. Just one more. Stand right here and look this way. Just one more shot.” 

We were getting close to the start time and he knew people were waiting, so he just says to all these guys, “Nope! I’m done taking pictures. Let’s start this wedding.”

This isn’t a common response. A lot of people will give in and take a few more photos, but from what I gather about him, he kept in mind the bigger picture of getting married. He kept in mind all his family and friends who are waiting. He didn’t get lost in the little needs of that moment, but rather let the bigger needs drive the day.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say over the coordinator’s walkie-talkie, “He said no more photos. He wants to start the ceremony.”

If you were there then you would have to acknowledge that there’s something about this guy’s character that is flat out likable. 

Forget that! There’s something about this couple that is likable

Sunrise at the Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

I was just remembering an elopement from a few weeks back when I took this photo.

Confession: I often don’t use last names in my ceremonies, just because a few of them can be very difficult to pronounce. I think I came across my hardest one for this elopement.

What I enjoyed about my memory of that morning (besides the great view), were two people so much in the moment and just so happy to be marring each other that any trouble I had with her last name was so insignificant to the magnitude of their love and commitment.

Not every couple really enjoys the moment. Some get nervous, which is totally understandable. But some are totally present, laughing and crying. They aren’t in their mind…. but just present.

I don’t think this is indication of anything or that it’s a red flag if you do get nervous. I just think that it makes the day more enjoyable for the couple.

So I’ll remember this morning for presence of the couple, their beautiful vows, and the wonderful sunrise.

Yeah for Mrs. Polick

Shoutout to Mrs. Polick for randomly assigning seats for her ancient civilization class back in 2008. Two high school kids found themselves sitting next to each other and became “no homework” buddies, often bonding over not doing homework. In reality, he frequently had completed his homework, but wouldn’t hand it in just and just kept it hidden in his backpack, so that he could have that connection with her. haha.

I had met this couple last summer and have been looking forward to their wedding. After sitting down and talking to them, you can’t not root for them. They’ve been together since high school, which is another great story…

He asked her to be his girlfriend and her first response was, “Let me think about it.” For 2 days he did everything he could to avoid running into her because he was so scared that her answer would be “no”. Finally, after two days, she was able to chase him down the block after school to give him her answer 🙂

My respect and admiration for them really starts immediately after highschool when her situation thrusted her into adulthood. They took on life together, paying bills, bringing groceries home on the bus, learning to cook together. They showed so much resolve, and such great character was revealed during that time. I think we have this tendency when we go through life that we’re just dealing with it as it comes, but as I look at their story and see the life that they’ve created for themselves now, I so much appreciation their mutual support, character, sacrifices, hope, and resolve.

Would you expect this from two kids sitting in class bonding over not doing homework?

San Dimas Wedding

You know you’re at a different wedding when the bride begins her vows talking about how much she didn’t like the groom when they met. And then that is followed by talking about how he used to walk around campus barefoot all the time and how he had also earned the nickname “blackout”.

I really wish I could have memorized his vows, because he had a powerful line that he delivered with such passion. He said, “I cant promise that I’ll love you perfectly (pause), but I will love you messily, passionately, completely, [and then about 10 other adverbs]. It really wasn’t just the words, but passion and cadence in how he said it that brought it all together.

My favorite part came a little bit earlier when I asked him during the ceremony, “Are you ready to take this woman to be your wife and to yada yada yada (I didn’t actually say Yada Yada Yada)?

He replies once I’m done with the question, in a deep and strong voice, “YES!”

It was such a strong response that it got a reaction from all of the family and friends in attendance. It even got a response from the bride. She jumps in and comments about the tone, “wow, that was sturdy”

This got a laugh from everyone, but without missing a beat, and speaking over the chuckles of those watching, he goes deeper and stronger, slowly and methodically pronouncing the words,

“I A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y F**king do!”

I seriously had to wait 25 seconds for everyone to calm down and stop laughing before I could continue.

It was a fun wedding 🙂