bookRead a book on marriage together

One of the greatest tools available to couples today is the many many books available on the subject of marriage and family (and blending families).  No one book has all the answers – in fact, most of them do not offer much in regards to new information   But no matter the book, they all can help stimulate amazing conversation.  If the only thing a books does is cause you as a couple to talk more about your relationship, it’s worth the time and little money.

One of my favorite books is entitled, “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” but there are many to choose from:  here is a good (and cheap) way to go:


question-mark_womanAsk good questions often

One of the dangers of being engaged is the potential of losing the urgency of knowing each other deeper.  One of the things all of us can (and should) do is ask better questions more often.

Take time to think of mind-stretching questions about their

  • past,
  • their folks,
  • hobbies they would like to try,
  • childhood memories,
  • places they have traveled,
  • professors they still remember and admire,
  • friends in college who you don’t know,
  • their dreams for the future,
  • and their current fears in life.

If you ask questions with a passion to know them better, they will share and open their hearts to you even more.

Take time to ask good questions often

Prepare for your marriage, not just your wedding: Tip #43

loveIn your planning, do not neglect each other.

It is way too easy to become all consumed in the wedding planning and forget how important it is to continue to nurture each other as future husband and wife.

Don’t be afraid to ask one another if they feel neglected in this crazy period of time.  If you’re like most couples, you are having a hard time find time for each other.  One thin g that you may have to do is place each other on the calendar for date nights.  Then after the “appointment” is made, stick to it no matter what comes up.

Prepare for your marriage, not just your wedding: Tip #78

premarriage counseling
premarriage counseling

Take time to take a personality test

Take a personality test with your minister, or officiant  or a counselor.  You can ALWAYS know each other better.  After 24 years of marriage, and 30 years of knowing my wife, personality testing is still a great tool for us to know each other better.

When you know each other better, you can then love each other deeper.  When you love each other deeper, you love being married even more – and you will survive and thrive in hard times.

This is the test I use.  It’s fun, cheap, easy, and very informative:

So go get someone to administer a personality test to the two of you.  It’s fun and who knows what you will learn about each other (and maybe even yourself).

VIP Wedding Ceremony in Arizona

Wedding_HandsI have had the privilege of marrying a lot of people of the course of my 25 years as a pastor.  I can think of several brides and grooms who, for one reason or another, needed for me as the wedding minister to keep the wedding quiet.  Reasons vary but often includes the fact that they are celebrities – and for them, confidentiality was not a luxury but a necessary.

I enjoy standing as men and women exchange vows with each other.  It matters little to me that they happen to posses recognizable names or faces.  I count it a privilege to share in their most intimate and person moment as a couple.

As a minister and man who is committed to keeping these weddings confidential, I make a vow to do the following for those who need discreet and private ceremonies:

  • I will ask few questions about the couples personal situation
  • I will honor a couple’s request for privacy
  • I will treat all people, no matter one’s religious background, with respect.
  • I will do as much or as little as a couple needs to accomplish our goal of marrying them

If you are one who requires a trustworthy and discreet wedding officiant  please call me or email me so I can begin the process of serving you and your family as you deserve.

Reasons to consider getting married within the walls of a church



There are many reasons why a couple should consider getting married inside a church – even if it’s not the church they attend.  There are also many good reasons why they may not want to get married in a church.  This blog will explore this topic from the perspective of a wedding pastor who is also a local church pastor.

There are many reasons why a couple may not want to get married in a church:

  • They are new to the area and have not yet found a home church
  • They no longer feel the need to be a part of a church family
  • They cannot agree on the kind of church the two of them want to attend
  • They once had a bad experience in a church and can’t seem to get past it

All of these are valid reasons and feelings.  Finding a church that fits one person is hard – finding one that fits both, is very difficult.

But here are a few questions I believe a bride and groom may want to ask themselves as they consider whether or not they should get married in a local church – even if it’s not their church:

  • Is it important to either or both of the families?
  • It it important to the bride or groom to have that kind of a spiritual element to the ceremony?
  • Later will either the bride or groom regret missing out on the blessing associated with a church?

Obviously, God lives every where – not just within the walls of a church.  But i have heard many people people speak of the need to exchange vows in a more sacred place.  The bottom line is this: if you at all feel compelled to marry in a church, don’t resist those feelings and begin the search for a local church that will accommodation you and your bride / groom.  Who knows, maybe it will be that very church you will find yourself attending as a young family.

How to choose a wedding date in Arizona


“Congratulations! So, when is the big day?”

At some point during the early days and weeks of your engagement, you will wonder if it might be easier to wear a shirt that says “Thanks! My Wedding Date is ___” as this will be the most popular question after announcing the great news. Before you head to the printer, you need to choose that elusive/magical/ date. How do you choose your wedding date? Very carefully! Your wedding date will be with you forever, so keep these thoughts in mind as you make your decision.

First, think of the fairytale wedding you have been dreaming about since you were little. Is there a certain location, time of year, flower, or dress included in your dream wedding? If so, take all of these into consideration as you choose your date.

Keep your budget in mind as you look to secure your wedding date. May, June, July and September are typically the most popular wedding months of the year, so prices during these busy times will, most likely, be higher than they would be during a slower time of year, not to mention the competition for preferred wedding vendors increases exponentially. The day of the week should also play a part if you are looking to save a few dollars. A Saturday wedding will be much more costly than a Friday or Sunday wedding. Just think, a Friday wedding could be the beginning of a great weekend with family and friends!

Holiday weekends are often a popular choice for many couples as this allows guests who may need to travel the opportunity to join you on your wedding day without having to take time off from work. Keep in mind, though, that holiday weekends are also a time when many families take vacations of their own – which means airline and hotel room availability and/or price concerns. If you decide on a holiday weekend, be sure to inform your guests of the date as soon as possible so they have time to plan and make travel arrangements. Send out those Save-the-Dates early!

Most importantly, before making a final decision, run it by close family members and friends, especially ones you hope to have in your bridal party. You will absolutely want to include these people in your day!

How to write your own wedding vows for a Phoenix wedding

20111217-112708.jpg Penning your own wedding vows is no easy task — it’s like writing poetry, public speaking and having the deepest conversation of your life all at once. Putting your promises on paper is an emotional, eye-opening and often extremely memorable experience. Up for the challenge? Here’s the homework you need to do (and the questions you should ask) to make your vows perfect.

Start Early

We can’t say this enough: Don’t leave writing your vows until the day before the wedding! You’ll be too nervous, excited and rattled to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month, or work on your vows in that pocket of time after you’ve set up all your major vendors and before you have to start thinking about the details. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, frame of mind. Some loose deadlines to aim for: Try to get a first draft together about three weeks before the wedding and have your final version completed at least two days out.

Look to Tradition

To get inspired, start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows — from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well — to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on.

weddingminister_chuckSet the Tone

Before putting pen to paper, decide what overall tone you want to achieve. Humorous but touching? Poetic and romantic? It’s your call — the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they’re from your heart. One word of advice: While your vows can be lighthearted (or even hilarious), they should, in some way, acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you’re about to make. One way to do that is to weave little jokes into traditional vows (for example: “I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch Monday Night Football with you”).

Figure Out the Logistics

Make sure you and your fiance are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you’re writing them separately, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? If you’re writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you’ve written to your officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.

Make a Vow Date

When it’s time to come up with the actual content of your vows, go out to dinner or set aside an evening at home to brainstorm. Talk about your relationship and what marriage means to each of you. Discuss what you expect from each other and the relationship. What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges do you envision in your future? What do you want to accomplish together? What makes your relationship tick? Answering these questions will help you make and keep your promises, and talking about your bond may expose your inner Wordsworth and help you come up with phrases and stories you can incorporate into your vows.

Schedule Some Alone Time

After chatting with your future spouse, take some self-reflection time to think about how you feel about your partner. What did you think when you first saw them? When did you realize you were in love? What do you most respect about your partner? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What about them inspires you? What do you miss most about them when you’re apart? What qualities do you most admire in each other? What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.

Steal Ideas

Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts — even from romantic movies. Jot down words and phrases that capture your feelings. Widely recognized works ring true for a reason.

Create an Outline

An outline can get you started by helping to establish a structure. For example, plan to first talk about how great your fiance is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your promises to each other.

Remember Your Audience

Don’t make your vows so personal that they’re cryptic — or embarrassing! You’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.

Time It Right

Don’t make them too long — aim for about one minute or so (it’s longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn’t mean they should go on for hours. Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you with your vows; pick the most important points and make them well. Save some thoughts for the reception toasts — and for the wedding night.

Practice Out Loud (Seriously!)

These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences — you don’t want to get out of breath or stumble.

How to choose a wedding officiant in Arizona?

Finding the right person to marry you is an important decision – after all, they will have a huge influence on the tone of the ceremony. You’ll want to make sure that you find someone who is willing to perform the kind of ceremony you are envisioning, or who has a style and belief system similar to your own. And of course, if you want to make it legal, you’ll need to make sure that they are legally able to marry you in your state.

The first most basic thing you and your intended bride or groom must do is decide if you want a religious or secular ceremony. This highly personal decision will have great impact for who will marry you.

Finding a Secular Officiant for Your Wedding

A Justice of the Peace Contact the county clerk’s office where you will get your marriage license. They should have a list of local Justices of the Peace who are willing to perform wedding ceremonies. You can, of course, look in the phone book, but it’s better to get the referral from someone who knows for sure that they are legally certified. Start by calling the ones close to you to get a sense of their personality, then ask if you can meet with them to get a better sense of the kinds of weddings they perform.

At City Hall Here, finding the person to marry you is typically easy. You’ll need to make an appointment and be willing to be married in a speedy fashion – no long drawn-out sermons here! Call your local city hall and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

A Friend or Relative This is fast becoming a popular option, as couples look for a more personal element in their ceremony. In some states such as California, a friend can get a one day designation of Deputy Commissioner of Marriages to perform weddings for a $35 cost. Others have chosen to get ordained on the internet, but before you choose this option, you’ll want to talk to your county clerk’s office or Secretary of State’s office to make sure that it is recognized in your state. Furthermore, make sure that the person you are choosing understands the seriousness of the task you are giving them. You won’t want a drunk friend making inappropriate jokes at one of the most important moments of your life.

Finding a Religious Officiant for Your Wedding

If you already have a family clergy 20120605-175133.jpgperson, or you’re getting married in a house of worship, your choice is easy. I suggest still meeting with that person to discuss the questions below and making sure you’re comfortable with them.

Otherwise, you’ll need to decide first what denomination best fits with your beliefs. Once you’ve done that, contact your local house of worship to ask if their religious rules allow them to marry people in secular settings. You might attend some worship services to get a sense of different officiants’ styles, then meet with them to make sure that they are available on your date, and amenable to the type of wedding you envision. Like any important job, don’t just give it to the first interviewee! Talk to a couple different people and choose the one that you are the most comfortable with.

Some questions you might ask:

How much are we allowed to customize the ceremony? Can we write our own vows?

Will you marry us even if we are not current members of your church/synagogue/parish/temple/house of worship? How do we become members?

If we are of different faiths, or one of us is not religious, is that a problem?

One of us is divorced, does your religion allow you to marry us?

Will our non-religious friends be allowed to participate in the ceremony, including giving readings, singing, or (if appropriate) taking communion?