Posted by: Reverend Thomas | March 18, 2014

What To Do With Your Wedding Dress

Bay Area Winery BYou’ve spent a lot of money on your wedding dress and you’ve worn it once, albeit on a very important occasion.  The groom has it easy.  In most cases he simply returns the tux to the place where he rented it.  Very few brides rent their dress and don’t have the option of simply returning it.  So, now what do you do with your beautiful dress? 

 WEAR IT ON YOUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY:  A well known website founder wore his wedding tux and his wife wore her wedding dress on their first anniversary.  They rented a limo and had a night out for just the two of them.

 PRESERVE IT:  Some brides opt to have their dress professionally cleaned and preserved.  This can be expensive if it’s done right often costing hundreds of dollars to thousands depending on the fabric and style of the dress.  The packing should protect against dirt, light, insects, etc.  Be sure to use museum quality material if you want the preservation to last a lot of years and avoid plastic packing no matter what.

 CHANGE IT:  Dye it.  Modify it.  Turn it into a cocktail dress or evening gown.  Use the material to make something nice for the first-born child.  Think outside the box and see what you can come up with.

 TRASH IT:  This is a relatively recent, and I hope short-lived phenomenon, where the bride destroys her dress right after the ceremony.  They cut ‘em up, jump in a lake or ocean, roll around in mud, you name it.  The goal is to ruin the dress so no one else can ever wear it. 

 SELL IT:  Ebay and Craigslist are obvious choices, but there are websites that specialize in reselling wedding dresses such as or  If you’re not sure what your dress is worth, there is a great calculator at

 GIVE IT AWAY:  Do you have a friend or relative that would like to have it?  Are there thrift shops or charities nearby?  You may also consider donating it to one the these fines charities:

If you have any other ideas of what to do with your wedding dress, I’d love to hear about it.  Just send me an email at

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | October 29, 2013


Lake Tahoe CoupleWeddings can be expensive. No doubt about it. According the The Knot the average cost for a wedding is $28,000. That could be a down payment on a house. If you’re one of those fortunate couples who have a large budget, that’s not a problem. But if you’re like most people in this economy, that’s a lot of money.

We all want to have the “Perfect” wedding and many have dreamed of this day for many years. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and let emotions make the decisions. If this happens you can expect to go over budget and regret it later.

So how do you control the expense? The first thing is to create a budget and stick to it the best you can. An excel spreadsheet is an easy way to do this. First list every expense that you can think of in one column. Brainstorm this with your fiancé, family and friends. List all the obvious items first, e.g. venue, gown, flowers, photography, video, entertainment, food, drink, favors, decorations, etc. Don’t forget the Officiant. Then list the less obvious items, e.g. gratuities, taxes, wedding party gifts, alterations, etc. Keep the list handy and as you think about your wedding or read articles about weddings add any other items that you can think of.

When the list is complete start putting the cost of each in the next column. Be sure to add tax, gratuity, etc. For example, most venues will quote a per person cost for meals, but the quote often doesn’t include tax and gratuity, which can add as much as 25% to the quote. Be realistic when estimating the costs and do your research. Call vendors and get some quotes. Check online for prices of ancillary items.

When you have finished entering all the costs in the second column, add them all up and compare that number with the amount that you can afford to spend on the wedding. If the total is less than your budget, you’re all set. But if you are like many couples, the total will be more than your budget and you will be faced with a choice: Increase your budget or find ways to cut costs. Let’s discuss how to save.

Think about the time of year and day of the week that you have your wedding. Peak wedding season is from early May to late September and weekends, particularly Saturday, are the most popular days. That’s when the demand is highest so you can expect the prices to be the highest. Consider having your wedding during an off-peak time of year or during the week when the demand is lower and you can negotiate a better price. This applies to venue, catering, entertainment, etc. where scheduling is important, but not to items such as gowns, gifts, etc.

Think of alternatives to traditional venues. A park or beach setting is far less expensive than a hotel ballroom. See if your local university has a chapel or reception center. Look into museums, historical sites and botanical gardens. A bed and breakfast may offer their site for a smaller fee and perhaps will even include the site if the couple stays at the B&B for a couple nights. If a family member or friend has a nice backyard, that’s always a good spot for a small wedding.

Maybe you can cut some items from you budget. Do you really need a horse drawn carriage or limousine? Do you need to have your names printed on the napkins or will plain napkins do just as well? A string quartet is wonderful for the ceremony, but will some recorded music work almost as well? Look at each item on your list and consider eliminating it or modifying it.

Rent or borrow instead of buy. Would it make more sense to rent tablecloths instead of buying them? How about the punch bowl and glasses?

Food and drink are big budget items. Of course limiting the number of guests is the obvious way of cutting back, but if your guest list is set, consider a no host bar or putting a one hour limit on the open bar. Do you need to offer top shelf drinks? Will a nice fish or chicken dinner be received as well as filet? If the reception is not catered, be sure to buy in bulk and don’t be afraid to ask family or friends to help out.

The cake can be expensive costing anywhere from $2 to $15 a slice or more. Maybe you can have a smaller wedding cake and a separate sheet cake for the guests. It all tastes the same and your guests will be just as happy.

Photography and videography are expensive. I suggest that you not skimp on the photography. You will want those memories throughout your life and if you rely on a family member or friend to take the photos, you can be sorely disappointed. But you can still shop around for a good price, but be sure to ask for references and look at sample albums. Video is nice, but expensive and after viewing it a few times, the video often is put away and rarely watched again.

Flowers are an expensive item, but you won’t want to skimp here either. Silk flowers are inexpensive but nothing is as elegant as fresh flowers. Cut back on the number of guests and have fresh flowers. But there are other ways to save. Flowers are seasonal. Your florist can have out of season flowers flown in at a price, but consider in season flowers as a way of controlling cost. The bride should have a nice bouquet, but the bridesmaids can be fine with a single stem flower. Boutonnières for the men can be a single bloom and corsages for mom’s and grandmothers can be smaller while still very nice

Entertainment can be anything from a CD player to a full orchestra. If you decide on a DJ, be sure that s/he is a wedding DJ. There is a big difference between a wedding DJ and a party DJ. The DJ is the master of ceremonies for the reception and will need to be familiar with toasts, introductions, bouquet and garter toss, cake cutting, etc. Having a family member of friend act as DJ can save money, but be aware that a professional DJ can make a big difference in how the reception goes and can keep things on a timeline.

Do It Yourself decorations and invitations are great ways to save money, but keep in mind that you will need to spend a lot of time on them.

The wedding ceremony is the “Main Event” of the day. The purpose of the day is to get married and you will want a ceremony that you and your guests will remember for all the right reasons and not because the ceremony was botched or amateurish. For this reason, be sure to have an experienced, professional Officiant. Asking your future brother in law to get an online ordination and perform your wedding ceremony will save money but can be disastrous. And if the ceremony is not conducted in a way that meets legal requirements, you can have a lot of trouble later in life.

Hiring a professional wedding planner can save you money. A good planner will be able to make suggestions, negotiate with vendors and provide discounts that will most likely exceed the fee charged by the planner. Look for a planner who has years of experience and can provide references from satisfied couples.
In conclusion, you will want to have a wedding that you can look back on with great memories, but no wedding is worth going into debt for years. Be sure to be realistic in your planning and budgeting and you will start your married life on the right financial footing and can look forward to a bright future.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | March 17, 2013

Compassion Among The Needy

One of the ways we give back to the community is to help feed the less fortunate.  We find the most rewarding way is to give food directly to a hungry person.  At times we will make up lunch bags containing sandwiches, a cookie and a piece of fruit along with a napkin and some condiments. 

Today we had another opportunity to help.  As we were out running an errand, Lollie noticed a poor soul alongside the road.  He was old, very thin, unshaven and was leaning on a walker, wore a leg brace and holding a cane.  Lollie said that he looked hungry and asked me to pull into a nearby restaurant to buy him some lunch.  Lollie wanted to get him something that he could eat with a fork and not just a sandwich.

After receiving a freshly prepared “To Go” lunch from the server, Lollie added some plastic flatware and napkins.  We added a large bottle of water and drove back to where we saw the fellow.  He had, by this time, traveled a couple of blocks from where we had originally seen him.  We pulled alongside him and offered him the lunch.  He took the offered lunch with a smile of gratitude and said, “Thank you.  I’m going to share this with my buddy.”

Think about that.  Here was a poor soul with hardly a thing to his name and obviously very hungry, yet his first thought was of his friend.  And this is not the first time we ran into this unselfishness among the needy.  We have distributed lunch bags to the homeless in the park and had folks ask for an extra bag for their friend who was in the public restroom.  We have offered food to others only to have them say that they had already eaten and to give the food to someone else. 

There is a lesson to be learned here.  Compassion is not dependent upon need or how much one has.  The poorest seem to have great compassion while many rich are greedy.  We both believe in the paradox, “In order to keep it, you have to give it away.”  We are fortunate and by sharing what we have, we are the richer for it.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | February 17, 2013

What should you look for in an Officiant


The wedding ceremony is the “Main Event” of the day and you want to make sure that your guests remember it for all the right reasons.  That’s why your selection of an Officiant is so important.  You want to make sure that your Officiant is professional, experienced and capable.  In addition to having the right chemistry with you and your fiancé, you want an Officiant with good public speaking skills, the ability to relate well with other people and who has respect for you, your beliefs and your wishes.  So, how do you find such a person and what should you look for?

1.      Experience.  The Officiant’s experience is very important.  An Officiant with limited experience may not know how to handle the unexpected such as a misplaced ring, a disruptive guest, a malfunctioning microphone or any of hundreds of other possible problems.  Can he conduct a rehearsal and answer your questions about wedding traditions?

2.      Credentials.  Make sure that your Officiant meets the legal requirements to perform a wedding in your location.  There are certain legalities that must be met for a wedding to be valid and the Officiant should know the requirements.

3.      Religious Beliefs.  Is the Officiant willing to perform inter-faith marriages?  Are you expected to conform to his beliefs or is he open to other views?  Will he work with you to develop a ceremony that respects the views of both families?

4.      Flexibility.  Are you able to write your own vows?  Is he willing to personalize your ceremony?  Can you add a sand ceremony, hand fasting, rose exchange, etc.?  Are there restrictions on what can be said or done during the ceremony?

5.      Moral Criteria.  Does the Officiant require pre-marital counseling?  Will he perform your wedding if you are you living together, have a child, are expecting, or been through a divorce?

6.      Availability.  In addition to having your wedding date available, is the Officiant available and willing to attend your rehearsal?  Is he available to meet with you before the ceremony?  Will he accept emails and phone calls from you?  Do you feel that the Officiant truly cares about you and your wedding plans?

7.      Appearance.  Is the Officiant well groomed and professional looking?  What will he wear during the ceremony?  Will he wear religious robes or clerical collar or will he wear a suit?  Is he open to wearing something special to compliment your theme?

8.      Cost.  Fees vary from state to state and even within a state, but are normally in the $200 to $400 range.  This is usually the least expensive, but most important item in your wedding budget.  Officiants spend many hours meeting with you, preparing for your ceremony, attending the rehearsal and ceremony, plus there are travel costs with high gas prices. You may find an inexperienced Officiant at a lower cost, but the memory of a ruined ceremony will last longer than the good feeling of a low price.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | February 6, 2013

The Flower Girl


The origin of the Flower Girl goes back to ancient Rome where a young girl would carry sheaves of wheat or toss herbs thinking that it would promote fertility.  Today the Flower Girl’s primary responsibility is to be adorable.

Traditionally the Flower Girl preceded the Maid of Honor in walking down the aisle, but in more recent times, she follows the Ring Bearer and walks just before the Bride makes her entrance.  Her duties are to walk down the aisle and spread flower petals as she does.  Some Flower Girls spread artificial flower petals or confetti.  Other Flower Girls may simply carry a basket or pomander (flower ball) and not spread petals.  I have seen one Flower Girl carry a sign announcing, “Here Comes The Bride!” 

The Flower Girl, like the Ring Bearer, is typically related to the Bride either by family or friendship.  She can be a niece, a close friend’s daughter, a younger sister or even the couple’s daughter.  The normal age for a Flower Girl is about 3 to 8.  If a Flower Girl is on the younger side or perhaps shy, it’s perfectly alright for her to be accompanied by an older Flower Girl or the Ring Bearer.  There is nothing wrong with the tandem method.  For young ladies older than 8 or 9, the Bride may consider having her serve as a Junior Bridesmaid. 

Since a young girl may be a bit bashful or reluctant to walk down the aisle, it may be a good idea to have her attend the rehearsal and practice.  You may even consider having her spread some shredded paper from her basket so she can get a better feel of what is expected.  Practicing at home is also a good idea.  Regardless of the amount of practice, come wedding day there will be many guests, decorations and festivities that may distract the Flower Girl of cause her to hesitate.  Seating a family member near the first row will give the Flower Girl someone to walk toward and the family member can call to her if needed. 

No matter what happens, remember that children can do no wrong.  They just make memories and stories.  I remember one Flower Girl who walked all the way down the aisle perfectly except that she forgot to spread the petals.  Once she got to the front, she realized her mistake and dumped the entire basket of petals on my shoes, with an unbelievably cute grin I might add.  I saw one time where the Bride had two Flower Girls.  The first spread the petals evenly as she walked and the younger one following the first picked them up as she came down the aisle.  Others simply sit a play.  Others did everything perfectly.  I can give many examples, but each and every one met their primary purpose.  They were all adorable.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | January 14, 2013

Who Should Have The Rings?

ImageThe ceremony had started.  The attendants were in place.  The groom was nervously waiting by the minister.  Suddenly a young boy of about five, dressed smartly in a tuxedo and carrying a small pillow came roaring down the aisle.  Literally roaring.  Making loud growling noises interspersed with throaty roars.  As he came up to the front, the minister questioned him about why he was making so much noise.  The small boy looked incredulously at the minister and confidently stated, “I’m the Ring Bear.”

So, who should have the rings?  That is a question often asked by couples.  Should it be the Best Man?  Should the Maid of Honor have one?  How about the five year old Ring Bear, uh, Bearer?  There is no one right answer.  What works best for the couple is what should be considered.

Let’s talk first about a ring bearer.  Usually the ring bearer is a small boy who is special to the couple.  It can be nephew, a friend’s son, or in some cases the couple’s child.  I have seen young girls serve wonderfully as ring bearers.  In today’s wedding, there is no right or wrong choice.  The one thing to keep in mind is that if the ring bearer has the actual rings, then it is best if the child is old enough to be dependable.  S/he should be able to carry the rings and present them to the minister when requested.  If the ring bearer tends to be shy or even a flight risk, then I suggest that faux rings be on the pillow and the actual rings be given to someone else.

The someone else, if not a young ring bearer, is typically the Best Man.  He can have the rings in his pocket or can hold them in his hand, whichever is better for him.  Some couples prefer that the Best Man have the Bride’s ring and the Maid of Honor have the Groom’s ring.  That also is fine, but that requires an extra step of the Maid of Honor.  If the Maid of Honor has her own bouquet and the Bride hands the Bridal bouquet to the Maid of Honor to hold during the ceremony, then the Maid of Honor will have a bouquet in each hand.  That may make it difficult to then offer the Groom’s ring when asked.  This is easily remedied by having the Maid of Honor pass her bouquet to the next Bridesmaid until after the ring exchange.

In some cultures it is customary for the couple’s parents or sponsors to hold the rings in special ring boxes until the minister requests them.  They simply approach when asked, hand the rings to the minister, and then step back.

When none of these options are acceptable to the couple, or when there are no attendants or ring bearer, the minister will often have the rings. 

The important thing is that whoever has the rings, that person should be responsible and capable to handing them to the minister when requested.  Otherwise the choice is entirely yours.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | January 9, 2013

The Personalized Ceremony

Over the years I have seen an increase in the number of Couples wanting to make their ceremony unique.  No longer are they willing to accept the “one size fits all” ceremony and instead are looking for ways to have a wedding ceremony that reflects their wishes, personality and lifestyle.  For some it’s as simple as adding their own vows.  For others adding a rose exchange or hand fasting is fine.  Others are requesting special readings or poems or even musical numbers.  The options for the Couple are pretty much open to whatever they and their Officiant can create.

There are a number of resources for Couples to use in this quest.  The web is, of course, a great place to find suggestions for vows and special elements, but I believe the best source is an experienced, open-minded Officiant.

When the Bride and Groom are interviewing prospective Officiants and they want to personalize their wedding ceremony, they should determine if the Officiant is willing to help them.  If the Officiant has a selection of different elements to offer the Couple for them to choose from, that’s even better.  Unfortunately some Officiants restrict what the Couple can and cannot do and that can be an issue for the Couple wanting a personalized ceremony.

The Right Words – A Couple’s Guide To The Perfect Ceremony is an excellent resource for the Couple.  The book is loaded with different elements that the Couple can review and use.

Posted by: Reverend Thomas | December 31, 2012

Welcome to my blog

Happy New Year to all.