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I got a DM on Twitter a couple of weeks ago from Liuba, at surviveweddingseason.com, asking me if I’d be interested in writing some tips for her website, and I’m super excited to say that my blog entry was published today!

Please head on over – not just to see my post, but to check out all the great information Liuba provides on her blog.  It is actually written to appeal to the guests of the wedding, which is a pretty unique perspective –

So, if you like what I wrote – please drop me a note – and Liuba, as well.  Or, if you like Liuba’s site – let her know that too.  I love supporting my peers through social media!

Thanks, Liuba!  Stay tuned for “What to expect at a Jewish Wedding”…soon to follow!

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I feel like I just got back from the Sykes/Krew wedding in the Bahamas, and now it’s time to depart again…this time for ARUBA!  I’m heading off to the brand new, beautiful RIU Palace in Aruba, where I will officiate the Jewish wedding of Evelina & Felix.  This is a 7-month-later flashback to “Russia-Meet Mexico”, except, this time Russia is heading to Aruba.  Evelina was referred to me by Rita and Dan, and there’s a connection there – which I’ll tell more about when I get back.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for Michael to settle in from the trip, and send me his pictures, since I left my camera card in my laptop last weekend.  As soon as I get them, I will post pictures, and a review of the Sheraton Cable Beach, and then I will post about my 4 days in Aruba.

Stay dry, Florida!

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A couple of months ago, Shirley Fuchs sent me an email, asking me if I could officiate a small, private wedding ceremony on Hollywood Beach, for her daughter, Dana, and her Fiancee, Shawn. “No Problem!”, I said! Well…she went on to tell me that there were just a few details that I might have a difficult time with, as Dana and Shawn were just a little bit – kooky. (In a beautiful way, for sure!)

“Kooky?”, I asked? “Yes, Kooky”, she replied. I wondered if this meant something “off color”, or something that would not quite go along with the fact that I am a member of the clergy, but she assured me it was completely clean, and quite adorable. You see, they have a 3 year old daughter, Destiny, and they wanted a cartoon character to perform their wedding – and they wanted their officiant to “dress up” in a costume they would provide. MMHMM, I said. And just what character would they like to have their officiant dress up as?

DORA, THE EXPLORER, her mother said.

MMHMM, I said – again. We’re talking August, on the beach in Florida, and you want me to dress up as DORA? Right. She told me they were looking for someone open minded, fun, easy going, and very much a team player. Well, that’s me. But DORA?

What the heck, I figured. You only live once, and like Wayne tells me all the time – I have to cut loose, have some fun, and take a walk on the lighter side of life. So – we agreed. They provided the costume, and I would take a hit for the team! Boy, did I ever. But – I got so much more than I bargained for. Once again, Dana and Shawn were the sweetest couple, and I fell in love with them. They had 21 guests on the beach, and dinner at the Marriott on Hollywood Beach, and there was me – in my Dora costume.

Even though this was a small, private wedding, I still felt I needed to spend the time getting to know them. So, we spoke several times by phone, before they arrived in FL, and we met the morning before the wedding. In that hour, I found out some great information that ended up providing tons of humor for their wedding ceremony. I knew I was going to need to get creative – but this really should have won an academy award!

You’ll have to read their ceremony. I really think I did a great job, if I do say so, myself. We had tons of laughs, I found a new “niche” for my wedding practice, and Dana and Shawn had the wedding of their dreams. I am definitely going to put a video of this wedding up as soon as I can figure out how, but for now – just check out the ceremony. It is sure to provide a few laughs! Dana & Shawn – I can’t tell you how much I LOVED being part of your day! More couples should be as light hearted and fun loving as you! Thanks!

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So, once again, I cannot believe how fast time flies. I have had so many amazing opportunities come into my life over the last few months, I’m not sure how to write about them all, but I will try to catch up in as short a time as possible.

The one thing about this work that never ceases to amaze me, are all the really personally rewarding experiences that come from them. Just when I think things are getting kind of routine, I get phone calls or emails from people right here in Florida, or all around the world, and somehow, I find the most amazing connections with everyone I work with.

The first story that comes to mind is that of Brett and Diane. Brett called me one day, back in February. He was kind of rambling, and kind of all over the place with what he had to say, but I could tell, there were some heavy thoughts on his mind. He was looking for someone to officiate his wedding to the woman he loved, but I could tell, he had experienced some major challenges in life, and he needed someone to listen – and to help.

He met Diane in recovery. He had been in and out of recovery his whole life, pretty much. He had a son from a previous marriage, who he was somewhat estranged from, his Mom had since passed away, and he really didn’t have any family to speak of to be with him on his wedding day. He was alone. Except for Diane – and her Mom. Diane was such a cutie. The minute I met them both in Starbucks, I was in love with them both. Brett had told me on the phone – they didn’t want anything elaborate. A simple ceremony on the beach in Delray, and off they would go, together, into the big bold world of sobriety. But, they had nothing to speak of, financially. They needed someone to stop, and listen to them, to believe in them, and preside over their vows. They wanted someone who would understand what they had each gone through to get where they were today, and most especially – someone who could give them a financial break – because again, they had relatively little to spend on their most very special day.

So, as I mentioned, we set up a meeting, and in came Brett, Diane, and Diane’s Mom. When I saw Diane, she had the most amazing smile, beautiful beaming eyes, and I fell in love with her, and Brett, and Diane’s mom – instantly. We talked about how the stars had all aligned themselves, in the most amazing ways, to bring them together, and how, miraculously, they brought each other through recovery – for most definitely (in their minds – and mine) the last time ever.

How could I have said no to this couple? They needed someone so desperately, and I was sitting there, in front of them. What they could afford was 1/5th of what I charge, typically, but it didn’t matter. I had an opportunity to make a difference in this couple’s lives, and there was no way I could walk away from them. It wasn’t an option.

So, on March 21st, I married Brett and Diane under the Jerry Garcia tie-dye style chuppa they hand made on the beach in Delray. Diane looked adorable in her hippie-style wedding dress, adorned with all of her tattoos and beaming smile. Brett couldn’t have looked any sweeter, in his casual beach wear, professing his undying love for the woman he met – just 3 months earlier, Many people would look at Brett and Diane, and swear they don’t stand a chance. I looked at them and saw a couple I just knew, would be together, until the end of time. I wish them so much luck and good fortune. I just know they will find it, too.

….More stories to come in the next post….

In the meantime, here is their wedding ceremony…Brett & Diane\’s wedding ceremony

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I just returned last night from my 4 day trip to the Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where Dan and Rita were married in the most beautiful ceremony (if I do say so, myself). What an amazing group of people this was! I must admit, I was a bit unsure if I would be able to bond with the guests and families, as I usually am able to do so easily. Thursday night, Rita told me they had shut down La Bodega, the Brazilian restaurant on the premises, for her family to have dinner. As I arrived at the restaurant, not having met anyone yet, I approached a group of 50+ people, who I assumed were her guests and family. The only problem was – everyone was speaking Russian! I was a little apprehensive about who I would talk to, and how I could connect with these families whose culture seemed so different from mine.

But, almost immediately, my fears were put to rest. I naturally gravitated to Mila and Vladimir, Rita’s Aunt & Uncle. They made me feel so comfortable, and they were SO interesting to talk to. Next, Dan’s Mom and Dad came and introduced themselves to me, and again, I felt so welcomed. The group went out right after dinner, but since I was tired, I retreated to my room, intending to wake early for the next morning. Friday morning gave me an opportunity to relax, and then we met for the rehearsal of the ceremony. That was when I had the chance to meet Dan and Rita’s wedding party and immediate family, and it was beginning to feel more familiar. I was immediately taken by how friendly and attentive Rita was. She was not only breathtakingly beautiful on the outside, she is even more beautiful inside. From the first minute, she was so concerned that I was having a good time, and you could really tell it was so genuine.

Rita skipping down the aisleFriday afternoon I had been sitting in the lobby working on some emails, and found myself sitting next to Esther, Rita’s cousin. She was so lovely and lively, and we just found ourselves talking for hours. She invited me to join her for dinner with her mom and Rita’s mother, and that was when Faina became my favorite person in the group. Faina is Esther’s mom, and she is one of the most lovely people I have ever known. She became my dinner and breakfast partner, and once we became friends, the rest of the weekend was so easy, and suddenly, I found myself falling for this group of people, because they truly were some of the most special people I have met in quite a while.

I was so taken with how all of these people came from a country that gave them nothing, monetarily. Each and every one of them had an individual story, of leaving Russia, with nothing more than a few dollars in their pockets, not even knowing where they would end up. But, one after another, they found their way to America, and boy did they overcome insurmountable odds. As I was introduced to the family members, one was a doctor, and another was a doctor, and so on. Dan’s dad fixed typewriters when he came to the U.S., and he grew that into a successful office machine business. Vladimir is a successful Engineer, and even the women put themselves through school and found jobs, and they all became successful. 90 family members who came from the most modest beginnings were celebrating, drinking LOTS of Vodka, and toasting “God Bless America” – along with a few l’chayim’s and other Russian toasts I really couldn’t master, but a great time was being had by all!

We were beginning to fear the weather, though. It rained the entire day on Friday, and by Saturday morning, it didn’t look any better. But Rita’s mom prayed extra hard to Rita’s father, who had passed away many years ago, to watch over his daughter and keep the rain away, and her prayers came true. The sun came out in the afternoon, and the wedding was amazing. Even I had a hard time keeping dry eyes through the whole ceremony. And now I can say, it was one of the best weddings I have ever done. I know I say that after every one, but this one was so special, yet I can’t really elaborate why I feel that way. Perhaps it was the people. Perhaps it was Mexico. I’m not really sure, but something very magical happened when 90 Russians converged on Mexico. It was a marriage in more than 1 way, for sure.

Sunday morning, Faina and I had our last breakfast together. We sat in the sun at the beach, and got ready to say our goodbyes. I said goodbye to Rita and Dan, Yelena (Rita’s sister), Faina, Esther, and all of my other newfound Russian friends. I will never forget this experience. It made me a richer person, and certainly not because of the financial gain. I am a better person for having met this group of people. They made me remember that my problems are insignificant, compared to the challenges they have met in life. They reminded me that even though people are different, we can still put aside our differences, and find ways of communicating in loving ways, across cultures. They reminded me it is fun to learn about and meet people from other cultures, that there is a whole big world out there, aside from my own.

They opened the world up to me, and I’m so happy to have met Russia in Mexico. Dan and Rita – I wish you the best life has to offer, because you deserve it. You are an amazingly beautiful couple, and I thank you for everything you brought to my life. Make sure you let me know when the first baby is coming!

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