I See It All!

I arrived at Griffith park, sat on a bench, and waited for the wedding party to come. This was just our meeting spot. Our final destination was a 10 minute hike up a hill to secluded lookout for a sunset elopement.

The bride came first with her cousin. Next came family. Last was the groom.

He stepped out of his car, glanced around until he spotted his bride who was wearing a simple white dress, and then started walking straight towards her. “Oh my!” he said. “You are beautiful.” As they embraced, he cried. Slow drops of salty water swelled within his eyes and then released down his cheek. He repeated those words again, and again, and again.

I watched, because how can you not stare at someone so consumed by the moment, so drunk by life’s goodness? For the next phase of his wonder, I would see him raise his head, glance around, and then tell no one in particular about something wonderful he noticed. He would just blurt it out. “Isn’t this so magical.” “Wow! look at the view.” “We really do have it all here!” He talked as if we were all transfixed on the same splendor, experience the same moment, hypnotized by the same elements.

The bride guided him towards me to say “hello”. After speaking a few words, the force of the heavens pulled his eyes towards the air to testify How “BEAUTIFUL E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G” was. He then looked straight at me with wide and intense eyes. And as if trying to speak into my soul, he declared,







I really do think he could.

When we arrived at the top of the hill, and as everyone was still getting settled, the groom, his mother, and his two brothers huddled together with their arms around each other’s neck, forming tight circle. They were almost bouncing together as they spoke of their love for each other and appreciation for where they’ve come from. Up and down the bopped. Tighter and tighter they gripped.

Within a few minutes we had started the ceremony and then the bride and groomed were married.

I signed the license and descended down the hill alone, as they remained there, forming an even bigger circle than before, celebrating.

Drive Through Wedding

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They pulled up to my driveway and called me saying, “I think we’re in front of your place.” I walked down the stairs and out the gate to see an SUV in front of my garage with a 75 year old woman and a 85 year old man inside. – The bride and groom have been together for over 40 years and now, during this pandemic, they find themselves sitting in their car signing their marriage license. Earl is completely blind, which made signing a little more difficult, but not impossible. – The bride kept on telling The groom to get out of the car and walk over to her side of the vehicle. I was a little perplexed as to why she requested that, so I watched him open his door, take great effort in swinging his leg outside out of the car to stand up, and then begin to feel his way around the car. I could see his hesitancy, not sure if he should walk behind the car because it hung out onto the street, so I decided to speak up to tell him that I would go to him. He crept his way back into the car. A few other times during this 10 minute encounter, the bride would request the groom to come over to her side, but I was a little faster in those moments to remind him that I would go to him. – They signed their papers and as they sat in their car, I asked them both if they “take the other to be their husband/wife?” Each agreed. I pronounced them Husband and Wife, and then the bride told the groom to reach out his hand. She lifted her hand to offer an affectionate shake. He went in for a fist bump. They laughed and jokingly told me that after 40 years they don’t kiss anymore, but I could tell she was joking and that it was difficult for them to contort their bodies in their car to reach each other’s lips. – I helped her push the button on her phone to facetime their son who answered while he was driving his car!!!! They briefly talked before we said our goodbyes and they drove away. – That was my first drive through wedding! – They were as kind and lovely as you could imagine.

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On June 14, 2014, I married a couple in Claremont. I remember meeting them a year prior to their wedding. I sat with them in a coffee shop talking about their relationship, asking them about stories from their past. As they recounted one story, it would lead to another, and then another. There was a certain cadence to the whole process. That is until one memory resurfaced. I noticed the effects of its arrival. His eyes opened a little wider, his head stood up taller, and his smile grew.

“There was this one night when I just started making up a story as I was texting her.”Boom!

The memory hit her hard, and she joined in the retelling of this account.

“This story went on for days and we would both add to it and played off what the other had written. And it was all in text.”

There was something about this memory that tapped into a very precious part of their heart. As they retold what they could remember, all the excitement and joy from that exchange was communicated to me, not by their words, but by their bodies.

The joy of that memory encased them.It was a special memory.However, at the end of their retelling came the lament.

Phones had been upgraded. Old text lost. Fragments of stories now only live in their memories.I wonder if it’s better that way. I wonder if the important part wasn’t the actual text, but two young loves getting caught up in a creative whirl, feeding off each other’s energy and excitement, not just for the story but also for each other.I wonder if they actually had the text and were able to read it, detached from the very early part of a forming relationship and from the excitement of a new love, would it be as good as they remembered?I don’t know.The story is lost. Only fragments of their story live in their memory, but the feelings surrounding those text exchanges live on.It was magical! It was the best story ever!

Wedding #585

Let me tell you about a couple I married back on June 13, 2015. They had this moment at that tender part of a relationship where you have strong feelings for each other, but aren’t ready to use the word “Love”. They had talked about different words to use, but nothing felt right. “Love” was too strong and “Like” was too general, so one of them came up with an idea, and said, “I loke you!” For that brief period of time that’s the phrase they used to express their romantic feelings of care and admiration.
I would argue that “loke” actually meant “love”.

Okay, can I tell you another part of their story?

Before they were together, He was into her and he would send her texts to ask her out, but she ignored them. Finally, she gave in and went on a date. After the date he asked her on a second one, but she turned him down saying, “I don’t think this is a good idea.” A few days later, she changed her mind and called him up, asking if his offer still stood.

It did. They went out. They loked each other. They got married 🙂

Harry & Ron

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It was 10pm on a Thursday night when I received a call from a guy asking for me to come to his apartment so that he and his partner could marry. – I arrived at 10:20 and met the partner at the gate. I asked him how his night was going. He answered, "interesting." – He replied, "yeah, for me too." – We walked into their apartment, they had just bought a wedding cake from the grocery store and had Harry Potter and Ron Weasley figures on top. – I asked them if anybody knew if they were getting married. Nobody did, because this was a last minute decision. The one who called me was scheduled to have a major surgery the next day and he wanted his partner to have the authority to make medical decisions in case complications arose. – Apparently even though he signed legal papers to give his partner that authority, there was an executive order recently that overrides those papers and gives decision making powers to the next of kin. – He did not want his mother making any decisions. – So we stood in their living room that they've shared these last 7 years together, and with the dog running around their feet, we had a little ceremony. – When it came time for the vows, the one having the surgery went first and repeated after me. Once he finished all of his vows, his partner went. I would say a phrase and then pause, waiting for him to repeat. – "For better and worse," [He repeated] – "For richer and poorer," [He repeated] – "In sickness and in health, [He repeated] – "Until death do us part." […] – … – … – [His eyes swelled] – [The lump in his throat grew] – [I waited] – These words were not hypothetical. They weren’t floating in the clouds. They lived in the ground where he lived, threatening to change his present and alter his future. – He was pausing, not because he could live up to those words, but because for a moment he realized the future that he was imagining, and he was overcome with sadness. – He tried again and again, but nothing came out. – He fought away the image of death, resolved to be present. He cleared the lump in his throat, mustered up the same strength that one day might be required of him, hoping it won't be needed anytime soon. – [He repeated]

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Coffee Grinds

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I was walking out of the bridal suite when the bride asked me if the groom had mentioned anything about coffee. “Coffee?” I replied, but the look of curiosity probably answered her question before I had spoken. – I could see her internal struggle, trying to decide whether to pursue the conversation or drop it.  It was 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony, and probably not wanting to add any more stress to the moment, she told me, “oh, never mind. It’s too late.” – I could hear a hint of disappointment in her voice, so I told her that I would look into it if she told me a little more about what was going on. – It turns out that the bride and groom had discussed including a unity ceremony in their wedding.  They came up with the idea of pouring coffee grinds from two different countries (Vietnam and El Salvador) into one vase, symbolizing their two lives coming together in marriage.  The bride and groom are both first generation US citizens and carry a deep sense of gratitude for their parents, and respect for their immigrant journey. Combining the coffee grinds would illustrate creating the perfect marriage blend 🙂 – Here’s a quick rundown of what happened next – I talked to the groom, and he had received the coffee, but it was somewhere in the bridal suite – I went back to the bridal suite and along with 11 bridesmaids we all scoured the room, looking for the coffee until we found it. – They didn’t have a container that they could use to pour the different coffee grinds into during the ceremony, so we found a mason jar that would work. – There was not a table at the ceremony site to display the coffee and mason jar, and there was not a wedding coordinator, so I searched and found a pretty little table from the cocktail hour area and set it up at the ceremony site. – I didn’t have any script for this part of the ceremony, so with only a few minutes to spare, I jotted down some things to stay to introduce the unity ceremony and the symbolism behind it. – I’m not a coffee drinker, so I’m not sure what you call a *thing* of coffee.  Is it a bag of coffee, pouch of coffee, a pound of coffee???? Everything else turned out well 🙂

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Bear Hug

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The groom walked down the aisle escorting his mother and father to their seat.  We were at the start of the wedding, which was taking place at a tiny little venue in Pasadena.  Most of the attendees were just waiting for the actual ceremony to begin, unaware of the gem that was about to be given to them. – The groom arrives at his parents' seats, turns and embraces his mother with an all encompassing bear hug.  His arms went below hers and, showing no concern for the delicacy of her dress, he plants his legs wide apart and lifts her off the ground.  She is caught completely off guard, and after the initial moment of losing control of her balance and of the situation, she laughs, realizing what her son was up to.  She was not frazzled at all. – The groom puts down his mother and then turns to his father.  He plants his feet further apart than before. His arms go beneath his fathers and embraces him just as he did his mother.  Now, as all of this is going on, I’m thinking that there is no way he is going to try to lift his father too. He is just making us think that he’s going to do it, but I was wrong.  His father must have thought the same thing, because he was caught completely off guard when his son picked him up off the ground. We loved it. The attendees got such a kick out of that moment that we all let out laughter and couldn’t stop smiling. – But the show was not over. – Next, one by one, the 4 groomsmen came walking down the aisle.  For each one of them, the groom had a unique and elaborate handshake.  High five fake out, around the back slap. Fist bump, backhand, forehand, etc…  It was so much fun to watch. – Now, if you are starting to get the picture that this groom was a showman who only cared about laughter, you’re wrong.  This guy was here to get married to the love of his life and he had a deep appreciation for those who were close to him.  This was a sacred and meaningful moment for him. No better moment exhibits this then his vows. – I don't have space to finish this here, so check out my blog 🙂

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Cry Laughter

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Standing on the cliff, overlooking paradise cove, one of the grooms pulls out his vows and attempts to speak them. What comes out of his mouth can best be described as cry laughter. – So moved my this moment, he is unable to speak. These words are so true and tightly wrapped around the inner workings of his chest that they won't come out. They cling so tightly to his heart that all he can do is try to gather himself before attempting to release them again. These words are so heavy, carrying the depth of a heart in love, dedication, and appreciation, that he can't even lift them with his voice. – He cries and laughs after each futile attempt to read the first three words in front of him. He laughs at how ridiculous it is that he can't manage to get through on sentence. He cries because the words carry everything. – I should have known that this would be an emotional moment. As we gathered ourselves on cliff, getting ready to start, he said to his partner, "Wait, before we start can we just have a moment and embrace?" So they did! They hugged and held each other tightly. It was a way of centering themselves, marking the most of the moment, being present. It was a way of anchoring before this big moment. – What should have taken one minute of speaking his vows, ended up taking 12. In that time I could have turned around and caught the spectacular view of the sun inching closer to the water, but if I would have done that, I would have missed the best view!

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