Your Friend Officiant- Pluses & Minuses

Are you looking for a professional Officiant? Or do you have a friend Officiant?  Here are some minuses — and pluses of the latter!

friend officiant at Homestead ResortFirst of all, let me cut to the chase. Don’t make this event — your wedding ceremony — TOO CASUAL. As a culture, a society, we’re definitely moving into a time of challenging norms and reinventing roles. But there are some norms that deserve preserving (wow a rhyme!) One of them is the brevity (and yes, of course, the joy) of the event.

There is a responsibility taking place via your ceremony that is going to sign you up (literally and figuratively) for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Make sure the friend Officiant you choose knows this is a responsibility. Make sure she or he will treat this event with a loving hand but at the same time, a respectful hand.

To Party or Not to Party

For example, it’s too casual a relationship with your ceremony if your chosen / friend Officiant is partying with you beforehand. Especially they should not be drinking with you and just hanging out prior to the ceremony taking place. They have tasks to do (see below) that they’re responsible for. Make sure they know you expect them to be the host, the director of your ceremony and they need to have it together

Getting to the Site EARLY

While you hope everything is in place, there are plenty of reasons things might not be coordinated but can be handled before the ceremony so everything IS together. Your Officiant should arrive at the wedding site at least half an hour ahead of time. That way he or she has time to

  1. Connect with the venue coordinator or wedding planner.
  2. Check in with the photographer or musicians about any requirements he or she might have and vice versa
  3. Check out the exact place where you’ll be standing together as you share your vows. Are the chairs close enough to where your Officiant stand with you so your guests can hear?
  4. Do a sound check to make sure the sound carries well or that the microphone has been set up properly.
  5. Also make sure there’s a microphone for any readers if needed
  6. Make sure everything that is needed for any special ceremony you want to participate in is there (the Wine Box or Sand ceremony elements, a table to put them on).
  7. There’s always more details to take care of last minute than you’d expect. Sometimes it’s the officiant who’s the only one to catch what’s missing and can get the ball rolling to put everything together last minute!

A Team Effort

Remember, your wedding ceremony is a team effort. If your friend or family member doesn’t take it seriously, the other professional people who are there to do their jobs can’t do their work as well either. Everything is connected on your wedding day so each person has to do his or her part.

The Big Plus

Your friend or family member knows you. They may know you too well — but your connection is the big plus that no matter how much a profession Officiant like myself can bridge the gap between knowing and getting to know you. Yet be careful — such knowledge is NOT a guarantee things will go well beyond your shared familiarity.

You can avoid many mistakes if you make sure, really sure, your friend or relative knows they are the conductor of the whole ceremony, not just the sharer of a few words, meaningful and fun-filled as they may be.

Insuring Your Officiant is Ready, Willing and Able

If your new Officiant friend or family member needs help understanding all the ins and outs of conducting as well as delivering a wedding ceremony, have them check out the very helpful Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Training program. The RW&A program is a very affordable, easily accessible program of 7 lessons that are delivered within a week. They’ll get the basics of how to run a ceremony, how to stay organized (like a great checklist to make sure they have everything covered when they get to your wedding site early), even ways to elicit and enhance the stories they have about you that will make your ceremony uniquely your love story. 

Every couple and every Officiant deserves to create great memories they’ll always value. You of course, deserve this too. 


Rev Crystal


Rev Crystal has been officiating weddings as a professional since 1990. She loves doing weddings (and comes highly recommended) and wants to make sure your officiant loves doing YOUR wedding. Find out more about her on her “Meet Rev. Crystal” page.

Little Love Teachers



(You can listen to Rev Crystal read this blog post and multitask to your heart’s content!)

What’s the single most wonderful thing about having children? Narrowing it down to one characteristic might be pretty difficult, but let’s give it a go anyway. I’ve never had children so I’m asking you what you think.

My first guess is they are little love teachers.

Bring Out the Softness

Alicia explained how her young daughter is a comfort to her as she adjusts to the passing on of  her grandmother she was so close to. Her son will tell her out of the blue, “Mama, you are so beautiful” in his cute little four-year old voice. These are the kinds of endearing moments that lodge in our hearts. Children can bring out the softness we’ve learned to hide because of our learned responses to people and circumstances. Our kids can remind us to open up and it has nothing to do with money or status, drive or goals.

They’re simple. Unassuming. Innocent.

Loving the Little Things

Jamie, one of my first northern Michigan brides is now a wonderful mom. When I asked her what she loved about her children, she said, “I love the little things. The look of awe every time they see an airplane. The ‘leg hugs’ [that come] out of nowhere while I’m folding laundry. The belly laughs when something so simple (to us) is just too funny. It’s all of the little memories and the way they look at you when they’re proud of themselves and look to make sure you saw them.”

As a parent you have the privilege and presence to enjoy these little teachers running around your house. They remind you what it’s like to be in the moment and how important that state of mind is.

Four-Legged Teachers

The closest I’ve come to the kind of love you must feel for your children is with my surrogate children, my two dogs and Millie my copper-eyed black cat.

Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re dogs which I expressly realize whenever they get their noses right on “smelly yucky substances” shall we say? But they’ve taught me over and over about being in the moment, and getting over myself.

I remember when I was still the minister at Unity of Traverse City. One of the board members thought she’d be a better minister than I was and was actively trying to take over. Whenever she visited the church, my soul dog, Clarissa, would still go running up to her, wag her tail, and be super excited to see her. She didn’t know or care that we were having serious disagreements. Dang pooch. She was supposed to be on MY side!

Actually she was on my side, the side being in the moment. Some call this forgiveness. Whatever you or I want to call it, I forget about the beauty of being present, simple, innocent when I’m into being right.

What Can We Ask Ourself to Snap Back Into the Moment?

Or is it as simple as shaking ourself with a slap to our sweet face?

Is there any question we can ask our self that would help bring us back to a state of innocence when we forget how much being open can improve our life? In the throws of being right, OMG, I can feel like a Mack truck barreling down a Kentucky mountainside and it’s hard to stop the momentum.

What comes to me is, do I want to be remembered for this moment? Speaking in this tone of voice? With this distraction on my mind saying THESE words? Is this look in my eyes conducive to joy? Is there something in my gut that’s urging me to see differently?


You have your children to remind you. But do you have something else you use to remind you? If so, will you share it with me? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Opening Up Outweighs the Challenges

For those of you who are parents congrats that you have such wonderful teachers by your side day after day. I’m sure they have their moments of really trying your patience, and you may regret some days that you don’t have the freedom you used to have. However, I’m betting the opening up you do outweighs the challenges.

Ah yes, our little love teachers. Our furry-four legged teachers of presence.

We are learning.

I’ll talk about growing and learning together the next time you hear from me. Please feel free to contact me at any time. Email, text, comment.

Love to you!!

Rev Crystal

Image courtesy of imagerymagestic at

If you didn’t watch the TED talk I sent you last time, here’s the talk again. 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

Don’t Let Regret Ruin Your Future


Every morning I go through the same ritual. I write what I appreciate, evidence of what’s going well, 5 things I need to do that day, and how I want to show up (energetic, loving, smart, prosperous, etc). Then I write out what I want my life to look like, kinda like my personal screen play.

In addition, since my mother passed on in December of 2017, I choose a card from The Soul’s Journey Lesson Cards by James Van Praagh (JVP). JVP communicates with those who have passed on. I like to think because James is tuned into spirits, Mom in her current spirit body helps me draw that day’s card.

These Soul Cards, unlike Tarot or Green Man, etc., convey quite a positive message, no matter how negative it may at first appear.

1, 2, 3 Times Better Pay Attention

Well, you know when something happens once and it passes in and out of your radar without much import? Twice your ears perk up a tad? But 3 times you know something is trying to get your attention?

Yes? This morning when I picked my JVP card, for the third time IN A ROW, it was the dull red card, Regret.

Pay attention Ms Crys.

The Regret card is partially explained: “Focusing on the past and letting it dictate the direction of your future is taking your power away from yourself. You are the creator. You hold the power. Reflect on the lessons of the past and use your current power to create your bright future.”

I never thought of myself as being particularly regretful. What could the reason be that I drew this card out of 43 others every morning for the past three days?

Loving Someone Dearly and Incompletely

What first came to me is my mom had Alzheimer’s. No walk in the park for sure. She challenged my ability to love her. I got upset, short-tempered, intolerant. But I came to realize the lack of love I felt so many times was not about her, but more about my not loving myself. I hated being so impatient with her incessant repetitions and mood swings. I’d blame my upset with her on the disease, on time, on medical science for not coming up with a cure. I blamed it on mom not taking better care of herself. And truthfully, I also blamed myself because I wasn’t stronger, more able to handle the roller coaster ride that comes with loving someone with Alzheimer’s.

Biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time with her just loving her.

Truth be told, there’s never enough time when we’re out of it.

Yesterday Takes a Toll on Our Future

Regret has been unconsciously sucking the life out of me. It was impacting my today and that meant it could really take a toll on my future.

How about you? Any regrets?

All Things Work Together for Good — Really?

Thankfully regret has a gift to give. It’s that judging anyone, self or others, is seeing the small picture as made up of put black or white images, and feels either good or bad. The larger picture is there’s a present contained within regret.

For example, I made the judgment that I didn’t spend more time with Mom, and that was bad. Black and white: you either love all the time or you don’t. No grey areas such as I did the best I could to spend time with her, AND love her.

Paul said in Romans, “…Know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”* Sometimes it just takes time for things to work themselves out.

Any decision, shortcoming, lack of any kind, can work together for good if we let it.  Maybe they aren’t as bad as we think they are. They may show us how to reframe a perception into a “wait and see” or force us to look for the bright side of an issue. Regrets feel bad and feeling bad is no fun AT ALL. Why would I / we continue to settle for feeling bad about the past. What good comes from it?

All We Have is this Hokey Overused Statement

Regrets will sweep the life out of us if we spend much time in that negative and draining space for long. Perhaps this sounds really hokey/ trite/ overused, but it’s still true: All we have is right now. Our now is creating our future.

Now is the moment we can recreate a revitalized relationship with someone we love. Whether they’re here on the planet with us or not. That re-creation comes from reframing judgment with the opportunity to know all things are working together for good.

New Commitments

My commitment is to stop the energy of regret ASAP. Instead I choose to feel grateful for every minute we DID spent together. I’m taking the ache of missing her and letting it become sincere appreciation that she trusted me enough to become as vulnerable and dependent on me as she did. And that I was able to handle watching her die, hold her hand hours on end and give her hundreds of kisses and I love you’s before she made her transition.

No regrets. Just moving forward. Creating a new tomorrow based on appreciation for what’s come before. I hope you’ll do the same.

And hey, we’ll see what tomorrow’s card may be. I’ll let you know!

Lots of love,

Rev. Crystal


I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

If you’d like the Soul’s Journey cards for yourself, I’d appreciate it if you’d check them out by clicking this link. Thanks!


Blessing Of the Rings

Exchanging wedding rings is one of the highlights if not THE highlight of a wedding ceremony. Here are ways to convey the meaning of the rings’ symbolism.


Community Blessing of the Wedding Rings

There’s a number of great ways to include guests in the blessing of the couple’s rings.

Option 1: As the ceremony begins, have the wedding rings in a pouch easily and tightly closed at the top. The Officiant will announce the rings are being passed around for each guest to silently bless. Have one of the Attendants begin passing the rings around. Have an Attendant from the other partner collect the rings when it’s time for the couple to exchange rings.

Option 2: When it’s time for the ring exchange, add this:

Officiant: As I hold these rings I invite all here to send a silent blessing to the two of you, to be imparted into your rings and to remind you of the community of people who have pledged you their support and encouragement in the days and years ahead of you.

Blessing 1

Let these wedding rings made of precious metals remind you every day of the strength and durability of your relationship.

Blessing 2

May these rings remind you that your love, like the sun, warms all that it touches, like the moon, brightens up the night, like the eye, is a gateway to your innermost soul. And your love, like the arms that embrace you, makes everything right with the world.

Blessing 3

May the vows and promises you have made today be as ever-present in your hearts as these wedding rings are on your fingers.

Blessing 4

May these wedding rings be a reminder to BRIDE and GROOM of the commitment they have made today and be as a testimony to all the world of their devotion in marriage.

Blessing 5

Wear these rings as the enclosing bond of reverence and trust. Fulfill the circle of love that now makes you one.

Blessing 6

A circle is the symbol of the Sun, and the Earth, and the Universe. Your wedding rings are a symbol of holiness, and of perfection, and of peace. They are also the symbol of that which has no beginning and no end. And in this moment, Bride and Groom choose them to also be a symbol of unity, but not of possession, of joining, but not of restricting; of togetherness, but not of entrapment. For true love cannot be possessed, nor can it be restricted.

Blessing 7

Your wedding rings are the chaste and changeless symbol of your evermore pure and unending affection.

Blessing 8

May your wedding rings be blessed as the symbol of your affection and unity. Your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle.

Wherever you go, may you always return to one another in your togetherness.

Seek and find in each other the love for which all people yearn. May you grow in understanding and in compassion.

May the home, which you build together, be such a place of sanctuary that many will find there a friend.

May these rings, on your fingers, symbolize the touch of the spirit of love in your heart.

Ritual of Unity — Sand Ceremony

Traditional Ritual of Unity

A traditional ritual of unity is the Candle Lighting Ceremony used in many weddings. The lighting of two candles represents the individual light of each person. The couple lights one large pillar with their individual candles to represent their coming together in one light. However, when a ceremony is held outdoors, wind can be unpredictable. Candles can be easily blown out.

No Lights Out

A Unity Sand Ceremony can take place regardless of the wind or weather. Because Sand is such a flexible medium a couple isn’t faced with the question, “Does this mean the light in our marriage will go out?”

So the Sand Ceremony is a very cool contemporary ritual that offers the same type of symbolism as the Candle Lighting Ceremony, but without the “risk” of lights out.

Ritual of Unity

The Sand Ceremony begins with the bride and groom pouring a smaller vial of sand together into the central vessel. The bride/partner1 is represented by one color, the groom/partner2. If a couple has two favorite beaches, often the sand is different color. Anyone can distinguish which sand reps whom by mixing a bit of colored sand in with the examples from each beach.

When the sand is poured together, it’s a ritual of unity. The mingling of the sands is represented by two individuals bringing together their past, their hopes and dreams, and all the influences that have brought them to their wedding day. The Ceremony’s script also includes joining together the influences of their separate family and friends. The many individual grains of sand combined is a meaningful representation of both individuals’ life coming together as one because of the bride and groom’s marriage.

There are many places in your ceremony that the Unity Sand Ceremony fits well, although I usually use it after the couple shares their vows.

From our Unity Sand Ceremony text~

“Your marriage not only joins you together as a couple, it also joins your two families together in very unique and special relationships. In this bond, each of you may share many experiences as if you were one person. You will share celebrations and times of loss and grief. While you will share life’s unfoldment together, you never loose your own identity. The miracle of love is that it allows us to overcome any sense of isolation. Yet love continues to permit you your individuality.northern michigan wedding officiants

“The two colors of sand symbolize your separate lives and your separate families that you bring here today. As you merge your sand into the one you indicate your desire for your lives, and the lives of your families and friends to be joined as one. I ask that you each take your sand and then pour it into the large single container.

[Sand is poured]

“We know that it is the wish of each of us here, that you will continuously blend your families with love, sharing and happiness, so that there will always be light and joy, peace and harmony in all of your hearts and in all of your homes.

Check out Rev Crystal’s blog on the Sand Ceremony.


A nice touch is to use sand for your wedding ceremony from your favorite beaches, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes Shoreline, any Traverse City beach, Old Mission Peninsula, Lake Michigan, Crystal, Glen or Long Lakes, Higgins or Houghton, Lake Superior, etc.

There are many sources for Sand Ceremony kits on the internet. Also try Michaels.

First Look Pros and Cons


A First Look 

The First Look is a scheduled time for a couple to see each other all put together and ready prior to the ceremony taking place. First Looks are a break from tradition, and you have to weigh the pros and the cons. Before deciding if you want to take this unconventional break, consider these do’s and don’ts.

An Intimate Moment Together Alone

The wedding day is filled with moments…being walked down the aisle…exchanging rings…dances…speeches… hugs and kisses…and everyone who attends your wedding will want time with you. You may wave at your new spouse from across the room more often than you are together! The events within your Event adds up quickly then you realize suddenly the day is over.

A First Look with your one-and-only will allow for a genuine moment with just the two of you. A moment to say something special, exchange gifts or just gaze into the eyes of your future spouse.

If you want help picking the location, your wedding coordinator or your photography team can find the perfect location for your First Look and let the moment happen between you.

Get Your Emotions in Check

When all of the planning and preparations are finished, your emotions can be overwhelming. Enjoying a First Look with the one you love truly helps to get the jitters out and allows you both to have a more relaxed and comfortable day.

You’ll Have More Pictures Together

A First Look is one more opportunity to capture those light airy romantic images that you want in your wedding album. The more choices the better! You may even have more opportunities to utilize different areas on the venue’s property by doing a First Look in one spot and Bride and Groom formals in another location.

A First Look May Help You Relax

A First Look means you may be less likely to fight the clock! In a typical wedding timeline you have to sign your  marriage license and finish paying your vendors (If you haven’t already). The cocktail hour is the only time to photograph your bridal party (unless you are pulled from the reception for your photos). Pictures are a big part of your memories so they’re very important to get done and be done right. Check out the photographers I recommend here in northern Michigan.

The Cocktail Hour Formals timeline generally looks something like this:

a) Family Portraits (20 minutes)

b) Bridal Party Formals (15 minutes)

c) Bride and Groom Formals (20 minutes)

A First Look timeline allows looks more like this:

a) First Look and Bride and Groom Formals (45 minutes)

b) Bridal Party Formals (30 minutes)

c) Ceremony

d) Family Portraits (30 minutes)

e) Additional Bride & Groom formals (15 minutes)

f) Bride and Groom banquet room viewing (10 minutes)

5. You May Attend Your Cocktail Hour

Staging a First Look means that most formal photographs happen earlier in the day, allowing for a more relaxed timeline which means that you may attend a portion of your cocktail hour with your guests or arrange a private cocktail hour with your bridal party!

The First Magic of Your Wedding Ceremony Changes

Ask friends and family who got married without having a First Look. Many will say there was nothing as touching as one partner seeing the other walk down the aisle — seeing that person in all of his or her wedding finery is awesome. As an observer, I love seeing the look on the Groom’s face when he sees his partner for the first time especially if they haven’t been together since the day before.

The choice to do a First Look comes down to your personal choice. There is no right or wrong, so make sure you have your day go as YOU prefer. The memories of your wedding ceremony and wedding day will sustain you for a lifetime.


Thank you to Palm Beach Photography for some of the ideas in this blog post.

In the Midst

This stained glass nativity scene was created by my mother some 20 years ago. She is truly talented, making many gorgeous art pieces throughout her life. I live in the midst of her art in my home. She surrounds me not only in her art, but because we are bonded, mind, body and soul. It’s a deep bond as I’m sure you know from your own life.

In the Midst

As I write this last of our eNewsletters, I’m sitting next to her bed in her assisted living room. The stark truth is she is dying. She’s 93 and really she’s had a very good life. She told me she’s not afraid of dying and for this I’m grateful. Mom never talked about her feelings about death. So the calm with which she told me how she felt is comforting even in the midst of the on again, off again sadness I feel. This is the extreme time of change none of us ever wants to arrive. Yet endings are part of life, and thankfully, life goes on.

Loss of Loved Ones

As I got to know you this past year, some of you told me how you’d experienced the heart-breaking loss of your mother, father, siblings and closest friends. As hard as it is, death and loss are part of life. We are always in the midst of love, the discovery of our experience of love and affection, the loss of the people we make the object of our love. Life and death is the ebb and flow of life.


New Beginnings

Yet Christmas is symbolic of the powerful new birth of our inner power and love we have yet to discover that transforms the world around us. The Christmas story is one of new beginnings even in the midst of political demands (Joseph and Mary traveling to Judea to be counted for the census, hence tax). Whether you’re rich, or poor, with family or not, we’re asked to give birth to and protect our grandest ideas, dreams and love no matter what else is going on around us.

The Unknown Future

Do you remember hearing in your wedding ceremony, “We acknowledge the richness and the value of the unknown future unfolding before you.” Because you never know what will happen, when or how, I wish you the strength and willingness to say I love you to one another as much as you can, to let a lot of the little stuff go. Pick your battles wisely, and stand for your needs and desires without making your partner responsible for your happiness or sadness.

But most certainly choose to contribute to each other living up to your potential.

You Never Know

Rickie Lee Jones sang back in the 1970’s “You never know when you’re making a memory.” May you make many wonderful memories this Christmas holiday, because one day, you’ll look back and be grateful for every kind word, every hug, every opportunity you took to give of yourself and see the best in each other.

Much love and gratitude for the honor of being your wedding officiant, and I hope, in the midst of your life unfolding, I’ll be someone you continue to trust in the future.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year ya’all!!

Rev. Crystal

Give Thanks for Your Bills

Piggy bank

Give Thanks?

This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I get it. Who likes to pay bills? And if you’re one of the fortunate people who had someone else pick up the cost of your wedding, then working through the ridiculous may not be for you. But if bills are pilling up from your wedding, and you’re feeling a bit oppressed by the weight of it all, this prescription may be perfect for you, ridiculous or not: Give Thanks for your bills.

Yep. That’s right. When I’m feeling the weight of a payment on my shoulders, or feeling resentful that I have to curb my more spontaneous buying habits, I make the choice to give thanks for the bill.

Let’s say I have to make a big car insurance payment and I’m not at all happy about it. Or hey, how about paying taxes? What do I do? Here goes — “Thank you for MY taxes.” (Please don’t ask me to be thankful for YOUR taxes).

In my case, I’m thanking my divine Self. Who or what is being thanked is not as important as the energy within myself of being thankful. God doesn’t need to be thanked. I’m the one who needs to be appreciative because gratefulness is a high powered, good feeling. Energy is everything because we live in an energetically based universe and it brings us into the present moment. As the Chopra Center teaches, “If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love.” Ah yes, pay your bills with love in our heart!

To Truly Give Thanks

To give thanks changes the energy from insecure/resentful/negative to positive/productive. Even if at first I’m not  authentically thankful for my bills, I repeat the statement several times until I begin to take it on. Then I take out my memories from the shelf I’ve put them on. I consciously recall the benefits I received in exchange for the payment I’ve got to make. I appreciate what that object or service brought into my life. Negative feelings like resentment and disappointment swallow up good memories and hopeful feelings. Take the example of taxes. I’m thankful that my taxes pay for voting booths and services so I can cast my ballot as an American citizen. Taxes fund educational programs, environmental protections, etc., etc. Even in the midst of these benefits being taken away by the current administration, I choose to be truly thankful for them NOW.

Transformative Effects

There’s been many times that I’ve experienced he transformative effects of being thankful. I remember a time when I didn’t have the money to pay my rent. I was really frightened about what might happen to me. Yet I knew being scared wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Instead, I chose to be thankful for the situation I was in, that somehow, things would somehow change. Even though I didn’t know where money would come from, I said “Thank You” anyway. Much to my surprise, the very next day I got a call out of the blue from a Unity minister who had a congregant moving to Atlanta and she needed a place to live, and could pay some rent. Needless to say, she moved in soon afterwards. That started the turn around for me.

Give it a try. What do you have to loose? Resentment? Grief? If bills from the florist, venue, hotel or whatever is oppressive, give thanks for the experience. Remember the good times you had, the meaning of your vows, seeing the beauty of the flowers as the day became evening, the appreciation in your guests’ eyes. All your good intentions. Change the energy you feel within yourself from negative to positive. And then see what happens. I’ll bet something awesome will come of it. When it does, please let me know. I may just have a bill you can help me be thankful for!

Great love and thanks for you,

Rev Crystal

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

-Launching Your New Life After Your Wedding Day

After Your Wedding Day…

Now that all your months of planning your wedding day has resulted in a grand affair, you can finally call yourselves legally hitched, blessed and celebrated. It sure went by fast, didn’t it?

Let’s Launch!

How do you settle into the rhythm of being committed to each other for life, let go of who you were and launch yourselves into who you ARE as a married couple now?

As in many things, there are actions you can take to help ease into the psychological change of moving from elation to everyday life. Experts, (including me) have suggestions to help you make expected and unforseen adjustments. Of the few I’ll start with here, let’s begin with appreciation.

Thank you for…

You wouldn’t be the odd one out if you dreaded writing 50-150 personalized notes. However, the deed must be done. Looking at this task as a dive into appreciating all those who shared your wedding day, rather than looking at it as a draining chore, can actually be an activity that helps your energy level. Being truly thankful is always a good thing! Get to this positive task sooner than later, within a month after you return from your honeymoon.

You CAN cut yourself some slack though not too much. If you can get them all out by your two-month anniversary, both you and your guests will be happy. You can make the duty more manageable if you divide and conquer. Agree to each put aside fifteen minutes daily (or every other day) and you can probably whip them out at a rate of ten a day. You’ll be done in the allotted two months. Even better, open a bottle of wine, do it together, and soon you’ll be checking out photos and back to using all your new gadgets and gifts rather than writing about them.

Oh, and while you’re saying thank you, be sure to share your new address with family and friends. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that ugly sweater holiday card from your cousin Ashley, would you?

Treat love as a verb

Treat love as a verb, an action. A friend of mine once told me he and his wife of many years had an ongoing contest to see who could pamper the other the most each day. They started it right after their wedding day. They were continually surprising and delighting each other. Consequently they enthusiastically reported they NEVER took each other for granted.

Love is not just a feeling. Love likes to show itself in both big and little ways. So know that small kindnesses can mean as much or more than a big splashy present or event. A solid marriage is more often the result of what Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) called, “deposits in the emotional bank account.” A steady accumulation of little gestures of appreciation and small surprises go a long way, and when one of you have a really off day or week, you make a withdrawal from your memories of the big and little things you’ve received. After the “I do’s”, keep your love alive by vowing to look for little ways to make your partner’s life a bit sweeter every day.

Plan Something New

The Knot, a great wedding site has this suggestion:

Last but definitely not least start planning something new to look forward to. It will help ward off post-wedding blues and you’ll put those organizational skills acquired over the past year to good use. Invite friends over for a happy hour to christen your new barware, throw an après-wedding name change bash, or start researching ideas for a one year anniversary vacation. And don’t forget to update your wedding website so you can start counting down to the next milestone.

After Your Wedding Day, What Now?

You’re on a great adventure. I am so happy for you, and love the courage and depth of the commitment you’ve made to each other. This is one thing I truly know for you:  All relationships have ups and downs. You have within you all you will need to make it through them all. You just have to trust that ideas and people will come to you to inspire and guide you. Maybe that happens by the right book jumping off the shelf near you, the best YouTube video showing up on your feed, or a good friend calls you at just the right time. You’ve committed to love. Now let Love have it’s future through you.



Rev Crystal

– Should You Change Your Last Name or Not?

Your last name is either something you have to live with or you don’t mind it at all. This end word of your identity might be poetic, common or self-generated. I have always had the same last name. When I had a crush on Tim in 6th grade I wrote my first name over and over with his last name. He didn’t know I existed.

In the 1960’s when I was in the midst of defining who I might possibly be when I “grew up”, the hippie era was born. Back then I had long straight blond hair like my idol, Joni Mitchell. I wore bell-bottom jeans (now called wide boot cut, how boring) embroidered with flowers, I painted matching daisies on the little mole on the left side of my face. I joined hundreds of thousands of baby boomers in challenging the accepted roles and sexuality of women. These challenges affected men’s responsibilities. More and more stay-at-home Dad’s staked their claim to raising children. A new definition of being strong and the breadwinner began forming.

Usually a love-in hippie, I demonstrated to end the war in Viet Nam. Many of us balked at the atrocities of war. We learned a hard lesson by mistakenly blaming soldiers for carrying out the war machine’s bidding.

On the other hand, I saw my share of the era’s great musicians, including Jim Morrison and the Doors, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Eric Clapton; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Rod Stuart and yes, Joni Mitchell (four times!!!).  I ushered at the famous John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Free John Sinclair” benefit in Ann Arbor. My greatest musical regret from my hippie days was not seeing Janis Joplin in person.

Back then, we asked the question about whether a woman should change her last name when she got married. We challenged the expectation a woman should automatically change her last name to her husband’s. We argued that the husband was not her new owner like a slave took the “Master’s” name. Gradually more and more women were able to choose whether or not they wanted to change their surname in marriage. At the same time, the laws changed so women could get a mortgage and a credit card without a man’s signature. Such progress! Yet 50 years later 70% of women still change their surname to their husband’s last name. Not a good idea to change last name? Or not?

Hyphenating Your Last Name

Sometimes, women decided to hyphenate their last name. When Joan Scrumptious married Allan Delicious, she became Joan Scrumptious-Delicious.

Combining Last Names

But when Phyllis Greyson wanted to marry Gordon Cabernowski, she was faced with an insanely long name. Writing it on checks and signing notes to friends would get old sooner than later because it was so cumbersome. Plus Greyson-Cabernowski was a name she didn’t like as much as her relatively simple maiden name. Whatever decision she made about her last name, it could be made into a testament to her commitment or lack of it to Gordon. The truth is her last name was a choice she made about what she wanted to be called.

More so today we accept that Phyllis is no less loving or devoted to her husband, nor he of her, because she chooses to keep her own surname.


Sometimes I joke with my couples that they could blend their last names. But no one has done yet. Gordon and Phyllis could have become Greyski or Caberson. I like that idea but as yet the practice hasn’t caught on. Then both parties have to go through all the trouble of filling out paperwork instead of just the spouse changing his or her name.

He Takes Her Last Name

Two couples I’ve known have taken their wife’s last name. One was my cousin. Her second husband changed his name to hers. Then Spouse #3 offered her his last name and she took it. “Names don’t really matter to either of us,” she said. They are still married 25 years later.

This year, Michael took Jessica’s last name. “We talked about last names fairly early on in the engagement. As a lady with many friends, Jessica was known among a fair number of them only by her last name. She was also a published author and did not want to become disassociated from her works. She offered a hyphenated name as a solution. I wasn’t very happy with the idea; I’d never really liked hyphenated names and mine was long enough already. Part of being married, for me, was readily identifying with your partner. The name was a signifier that we were in love and walking the same path together. So, I did what made sense: I took her name, and we’re both happy.”

I asked what Jess felt about taking her last name.

Jess says she thought my decision showed a lot of respect for her and for our relationship. It made her feel that I was becoming a part of our family; we became our own ‘team’ so to speak.”

There are other reasons a spouse wants to keep their own surname. Familiarity.  Convenience. Milestones.

Energy Shift

Consider this as well:  When anyone changes their name, whether it’s their first or last name, there’s a change of energy that accompanies the new name. Some people live with names they hate even though it doesn’t reflect who they are, or makes they feel they owe it to their family to keep the same name. Others love their name or love the name of the person they marry. Best to have the energy of love surrounding you and enfolding your decision. There’s no valuable use in pretending to feel what you do not.

If you are getting married, thoughtfully consider whether this change of energy and name is right for you. Focus on your shared love and mutual respect. These qualities are so important in the success of a marriage. Support the decision that is made and move on. Whether or not changing your last name helps you know more who you are and what you want to be, let it be done without harsh judgment or regret.

And besides, you can always change your name again later.


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