Preparing your Father of the Bride Toast

Wedding season 2015 is officially upon us, and while brides and grooms are already in full swing with their preparations, there are a few other family members who need to start thinking of their roles in the big day.  One person with big shoes to fill who often gets overlooked is the Father of the Bride.  The FOB, as he’s often referred to in the wedding industry, has a huge role in his daughter’s special day, from walking her down the aisle, to giving a toast she’ll remember forever.

If you’re going to be an FOB this year, here are 3 parts of a classic FOB speech that will leave guests satisfied, and be sure to have your little girl smiling (instead of mortified).

1. Introduce yourself.

Even if the DJ or master of ceremonies has already done so, this is an opportunity to warm up the room and really get everyone paying attention to what you’re about to say.

2. Welcome everyone and thank them for attending.

Remember to speak on behalf of yourself, your wife, and your family.  Not only are you representing yourself and your family, but in this moment, you are an extension of your daughter, so be kind, and keep social graces in mind.

3. Turn your attention to the newlyweds.

A.  Share your pride, your happiness, and your love for your daughter.  You can share a story that is uplifting and speaks to the joy you have in knowing her or your pride in the young woman she is.  You can take a tiny stroll down memory lane, but don’t meander endlessly.  Make sure your story is tight and well rehearsed, so the point you are trying to make comes across succinctly.  Express your gratitude to her for all the joy she has brought to your life.

B.  Acknowledge her groom, and welcome him and his family into your family.

C.  Express your hope for their future to be bright and loving, and filled with happiness.

D.  Thank everyone again for coming, and wish them a safe journey back home after the festivities have ended.

E.  Look directly at the newlyweds, raise your glass, and ask everyone to toast them with you.

That’s it – you’re  done!  Simple, classy, and sincere.  Do it your own way, with your own personality.  Add humor if you’d like, but always take the high road with your humor.  If you must poke fun, poke it at yourself and no one else.  In a nutshell, let your daughter know how much you love her, and how much you wish and pray for her/their continued happiness.


For the full lowdown on being a gracious Father of the Bride, read The Joy of Your Love: An Inspired Guide to Your Best Wedding.


You’re Engaged!

You’re Engaged!

First of all, congratulations!

This is certainly an exciting time in your life, along with a busy one. There is so much ground to cover, but here is a list to help you jump start the process:

1) Lock yourself in the bedroom with your beloved. Share a glass of wine or sparkling water and spend an hour really talking about the kind of wedding you both want. Set your joined vision and stick to it as your first husband and wife to be decision. You will be a team from this point on, so start thinking and acting like one now.

2) Get completely clear on your wedding budget; if you have relatives helping with the expense, get a firm number and a firm commitment from them on that number. You both must know what you have to spend- this dictates all your other decisions, so start with this number firmly implanted in both of your heads. Write out your projected expenses, and then each time you write a check or swipe a card for wedding expenses, record it on your budget sheet. Once every two weeks or at the longest, once a month, review your expense sheet together to make sure you are in line with your budget. There is nothing more detrimental to your relationship and marriage than to start off with an overwhelming amount of debt because one or both of you blew the wedding budget out of the water.

3) Knock down the big items first: decide on your wedding date, then secure the venue, the officiant, the photographer, the entertainment, the florist, the cake vendor. The first few decisions made seems to set off a domino effect; once one of the big decisions is locked in, the others start to fall into place.

4) Choose your wedding party and make sure everyone is committed to being there for you on your big day.

5) Honey, find THE DRESS. It can take months, and the longer you wait the more anxiety you will create for yourself. This is probably the most important outfit you will ever choose, so get on it. Couples, know thyselves well. Ladies, are you a micro manager who wants to manage every minute detail? And do you have the time in your busy, career filled life to do so? If not, the best money you will spend is on a wedding coordinator. A good one is worth her or his weight in gold, and if you know you need one, hire them as soon as possible to stream line the entire process. Gentlemen, do you want to be involved in every single decision? If so, you will have to carve some time out of your professional life, along with foregoing some Saturday golf outings or other sports events. All these decisions take inordinate amounts of time, so declutter your calendar or let your bride make some decisions without your presence. Even with a conquer and divide attitude and game plan, there is still plenty you must do together to make this all come together smoothly. Enjoy your tastings- those are fabulous, gluttonous events. Make this a fun process, and use it as a means of strengthening your communication. This is your first big test as a couple. Be gentle with yourselves and each other through all the decisions and all the weeks and months leading up to your big day. Be sure to set aside time for just the two of you to relax, have fun, and remember the joy of the love you share with each other, which is the reason you chose to get married in the first place!


He gifted her with a membership to their fave golf club- then proposed to her on the course!

The Ring

The Ring

For more guidance and great true stories to help you prepare for your wedding and marriage, order my book, The Joy of Your Love: An Inspired Guide to Your Best Wedding. Don’t forget to read further into, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and see my Pinterest boards for more great wedding inspiration!

Sometimes it IS All About the Shoes…

It’s always so fun to see the beautiful dresses the brides choose, but sometimes they also choose a great shoe – and that is really true when it’s a Jimmy Choo. My bride was from England, as was her groom. They moved here for his corporate position. But when you grow up in England where Jimmy Choos originated, it’s just natural you want to bring them across the pond with you. Jimmy Choo became famous here too; Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie in Sex and the City loved her shoes, and especially loved Jimmy Choo, along with Manolo Blahnik. Deb loved her Jimmy Choo bridal shoe; she told me she knew she had to have them the moment she saw them. She bought them even before shd found her dress. And they were a beautiful Cinderella shoe- sparkly and elegant to the max.

The moment I saw them peeking out from her dress, right before the Processional began, I squealed with delight. I stopped everything so I could take a close up look at those gorgeous shoes. I oohed and ahhed as Deb showed them off just as if she was a celebrity shoe model, and then we all headed down the aisle. I rarely take pictures of shoes, but I asked Deb right after the wedding if I could snap a picture of her with her Jimmy Choos. She happily obliged, and then I showed that photo of her with her Jimmy Choos to everyone for about 2 weeks.

Jimmy Choo and the Rings
 The Jimmy Choo shoes       The Jimmy Choo shoes and the Dress
Andy's socks and Deb's Jimmy Choo'sAndy checks out Deb's Jimmy Choo's

Photos Courtesy of Matt Mason Photography

As women, we tend to love our shoes; we know the perfect shoe can complete and even transform an entire outfit. It is the accessory that can help us feel sleek, sexy and romantic, and be a total statement piece on it’s own. A beautiful elegant shoe on our wedding day can really complete the entire picture of timeless, classic beauty a bride emanates. And sometimes a fabulous shoe is just plain FUN. These Jimmy Choos were both. And by the way, Deb and Andy got married on a beack overlooking a marina, proving the point that a great designer shoe goes everywhere and with everything. It is an investment, but it is an investment that will last forever, and is a perfect match for the forever moment you create with your husband to be as you join in marriage.

And Deb still loves those shoes; she tells me that every once in awhile she’ll slip them on and vacuum the house in them, just to remember how elegant and beautiful she felt in them on her wedding day. I know she’ll cherish those Jimmy Choos her entire life, not only for the shoe, but most importantly for what those shoes symbolizes to her: the perfect shoe for her perfect day- and the walk she took in them on the day she married the love of her life. Here’s to the joy of finding the perfect shoe for your perfect day!

Love Can Blossom Even in the Autumn of our Lives

My associate minister, Joan, and I had several opportunities this summer to marry
couples who are in the autumn years of their lives.

No matter what the earlier years of one’s life has or has not brought, it is often very
sweet and tender and poignant to discover love- for the first time, or again- in the
second half of one’s life.

There is wisdom and discernment that comes with age and the living of life beyond
the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. This often translates to knowing clearly who is or is not a
good match for us as we enter the next exciting phase of our life.

There is also plenty of time to give to ourselves and our relationship as most of
our child rearing duties and responsibilities are complete. This can make for a full,
varied, active, fun, and enriched relationship experience.

The Autumn season of one’s life brings visions of reaping a wonderful harvest
from seeds planted and grown with love and care within ourselves, and the
opportunity to enjoy the color and beauty of life that abounds as we slow down just
a bit to take in all the bounty and goodness that life still has to offer.

As one of our grooms so eloquently put it in his personal vows to his new bride:

“(Name), I offer you not the ‘the summer of my life’ but the autumn, brisk and vibrant. I promise to be a companion worthy of your precious friendship. I pledge you compassion in good times and bad; encouragement in sickness and health. It is my intent that our life together includes our large circle of friends and loving families. We’ll cherish the memories of our individual pasts; and create our new life as we go now together.”

Beautiful- I know they are enjoying the harvest of their love in this joyful season of their lives.

You’re Invited!

What are you plans this weekend? Are you looking for something fun to do? Well, you’re in luck! I’m hosting my very first book signing on Saturday, and you’re invited!

The Joy of Your Love Cover Option 1

When: 11:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday June 21st 2014
Where: The Cornerstone Shoppe
214 Broad St.
Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Come join me for a book signing featuring my book The Joy of Your Love: An Inspired Guide to Your Best Wedding. We’ll have plenty of copies on hand for purchase, or feel free to bring in your copy for a personalized signature.

I look forward to seeing you then!

Circle of Love: Creative Ideas for the Ceremony with Florals

A unique way to form an altar or sacred circle at an outdoor ceremony is with a circle of petals sprinkled on the ground that the bride and groom step into as they come forward to be married.

Here are the words to accompany the placing of the petals:

As you took your seats for the ceremony, you were asked to come forward and sprinkle petals in an oval, forming a Circle of Love that now surrounds our bride and groom. This Circle of
Love will form the altar, the sacred space where our bride and groom will make their vows and promises to each other, as they are joined together in marriage.

But these flowers not only represent this new beginning for our bride and groom, marking this spot and this moment in their lives – but also the love of each person who placed it. Each flower petal is an individual, beautifully unique in its own way – just as the love and support of the person who placed it. Each flower petal is a show of support for our bride and groom as they become husband and wife, and as they begin this new, amazing, and wonderful journey together, as partners in life. They are surrounded by these flowers, this Circle of Love, just as they are surrounded by their cherished family and friends love today – and everyday!

Circle of Love-Keri-Neil-2012 Circle of Love-Keri-Neil-2012-photo 2Circle of Love-Keri-Neil-2012-photo 3