Friday, December 26, 2008

Pay Attention To The Whole Journey...

Not just the destination.

I've been going to Dallas' Adolphus Hotel for years and usually, my eventual destination is a wedding or a rehearsal in one of the ballrooms. It occurred to me last week that every single time I'm there, I walk in the revolving door with a smile on my face and a positive attitude because of, believe it or not, the door man!

If you've been to the Adolphus, you already know who I'm talking about. If you haven't been, then you need to experience Phillip Johnson, the first face you encounter when you drive up to the front entry. His commanding presence, positive attitude and the booming "Welcome to the Adolphus!" are what has put this man at the top of his game and made him a customer service legend in Dallas. He was the man to utter those welcoming words when the Queen of England visited Dallas in 1991. He was also the man to say those words when a humble minister pulled up last weekend to conduct a wedding rehearsal. Take a look at that smile--how could you not appreciate a friendly word from this guy?

I drive up to that entry in my 8 year old Ford; but it doesn't matter whether it's a Ford or a brand new Bentley or Benz, Phillip treats everyone like royalty. On my recent visit, he even put my car in the coveted "up front" spot, as he knew I'd only be inside for an hour at the wedding rehearsal. Imagine that, me getting preferential treatment from Phillip Johnson? It was like being invited to sit on the 50 yard line at the Super Bowl (assuming the Cowboys ever get back to the Super Bowl). The entire staff of the Adolphus makes you feel that way. Apparently the hotel must think highly of Phillip as he has his own page on the Adolphus website. Click HERE to see it. Phillip has been there for 27 years.

This is the good stuff, folks. Stop along the way, pay attention to those things you might otherwise take for granted. Tell those people you meet regularly how much they mean to you.

My gratitude goes to Phillip Johnson at the Adolphus Hotel, who always makes me feel like a VIP. Next time you're at the Adolphus, tell Phillip I said hello, but I can't guarantee that'll get you a good parking spot :)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Card Greetings

...from the Round Rock branch of the family. .

A Christmas card came today from our eldest son and his family who live in Round Rock, also known as the home of Dell Computer. If you've never been there, yes, there is actually a round rock in the middle of Brushy Creek that runs through downtown and it is an official Texas historical site. The town is also home to the famous Round Rock Donuts that have been featured on numerous travel and cooking shows--the donuts are yellow. A Saturday morning trip to get donuts is a regular thing for Aidan and Alexander.

Adam (who works for a computer services company) and Heather (who teaches 8th grade in the Round Rock ISD) have given us two grandsons. Aidan, who just turned six years old, and Alexander who'll be four late in January. As you can tell from the picture, Aidan has recently lost two teeth and received an appropriate visit from the tooth fairy. He prefers reading books (about space flight and science), while Alexander likes drawing on his magic sketch pad on which he has mastered the names of way more geometric shapes than I ever have. How many three year olds know how to draw a trapezoid or a rhombus or a decahedron? Okay, so I'm biased about my smart grandchildren

What precious treasures our families are to us. I love my family and love getting pictures. If you need a reason to be in touch with your family, this is the season. Let them know how much they mean to you.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Weisfeld Center

…and Blink 182 tie Eric & Maria together.

TheWeisfeld Center (officially known as the Sara Ellen & Samuel Weisfeld Center) was the site recently for the wedding of Maria and Eric. This location is on the southern edge of downtown Dallas (just a block from city hall) and is one of those rare gems that many people have probably seen from the outside and wondered what it is. Your first walk inside is when the shock occurs—the main auditorium is breathtaking in its beauty. The windows, the pipe organ, the wood work, stone work and more make this an elegant setting for a wedding. As many times as I’ve been there, I still stand and gaze in awe at the workmanship. The wedding coordinator there, Molly Kristall, not only knows her way around a wedding and reception, but she’s a storehouse of knowledge about this one hundred year old building. You can learn more about this historic structure by clicking HERE
Eric and Maria actually met in high school, but were not the proverbial high school sweethearts. In fact, after high school they lost touch but reconnected a few years later when both were in college, he at Texas State, she at TWU. One evening during finals she texted Eric and jokingly asked him if he’d like to drive to Denton and watch a movie with her. Five hours later, he was there and since April 28, 2006, they’ve been inseparable. Must have been a good movie!

I do love stories like this and I especially love the fact that I’m able to be there, to see their love brought to the altar and be able to participate in that wedding ceremony. Also, since I’m an old rock 'n’ roller, I enjoyed the recessional song, “First Date “ by Blink 182 (the entire back row of guests was playing air guitar!) The bride and groom share a love of music and had initially gotten acquainted through the song “Going Away to College” by the same band.

Maria and Eric, my thanks for including me in your special day and my thanks to Molly at the Weisfeld Center for taking such good care of the details as always. I appreciate John Keen (who I think is related to the bride) for providing me the pictures. You can visit John by clicking HERE.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Always a Comfort

…to work with trusted associates

This past Saturday in Flower Mound I officiated an evening ceremony at Chapelle des Fleurs. Megan and Eric were wed in front of approximately 125 guests in the elegant chapel. Nice thing about Chapelle des Fleur is after the ceremony, you just walk about 25 feet across the entry from the chapel to get to the reception hall.

The bride chose cranberry and taupe for the bridesmaid dresses with bouquets of red and white roses. The bride carried solid red roses as she was escorted to the altar by her father. This ceremony included a Hawaiian tradition called “blending of the sands”, but this one had an extra twist. The mothers of the bride and groom stepped forward to pour the first layer of sand, symbolizing the birth, upbringing and foundation that they provided for the bride and groom. The bride and groom then blended their own sand colors into the vessel. The vessel will be sealed and displayed in their home.

What a comfort it is to me to walk into a venue and find that I’m working with the A-Team, in this case Anna (the wedding coordinator at Chapelle des Fleurs), Bob & Linda Poer handling music & DJ duties, and Harry Harjabrata doing the photography. Click on the names in red and you can visit their websites. This is something for brides to consider about the various vendors being hired for a wedding: do they know each other, have they worked together before, are they all familiar with the venue? It helps me to concentrate on the bride & groom when I know that all the other details will be handled professionally. When I do a wedding ceremony and I am not aware that the DJ, photographer or videographer are in the room, that means they’ve done their job right. These folks I worked with Saturday are consummate professionals.

Megan and Eric honored me by inviting me to be part of their day. My thanks also to Harry Harjabrata of Harry Photography for allowing me to use the pictures, to Bob and Linda of Mobile Music for seamless execution of the wedding music, and of course to Anna, the wedding coordinator at Chapelle des Fleurs.

Oh, I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you ever go to an event at Chapelle des Fleurs and a server offers you an appetizer, take it. They’re all good.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Albuquerque Branch of the Family

...Wishes You a Merry Christmas

Today's mail brought this year's Christmas card from our youngest son and his family in Albuquerque, NM. I wanted to share it with you. Granted, I might be a little biased but I do think that we have the best looking children and grandchildren on the planet.

When you look at the picture in the upper left, it's not too difficult to tell why our grandson is already so tall.

Extra thanks must go to Amy Grebe, not only a wonderful friend, but an outstanding photographer. You can see more of her work here
and here. Her daughter Aislyn is Liam's BFF.

Our families are precious treasures. If you need a reason to reach out to your own family, this is the season. Let them know how much they mean to you.


Monday, December 15, 2008


...and how to improve that all important picture

Those of us at LoveNotes adopted a new concept a few months back and it's working very well. Simple thing, really. It's about the kiss at the end of the wedding ceremony. We've probably all seen pictures like the one included here, where a portion of the minister's face is peaking out of the little triangle created when the bride and groom share a kiss.

How to make this picture better? Easy. When we tell the groom that he may kiss the bride, we immediately step out of the frame so that the flowers, candles, or whatever is centered behind us are visible. This improves the quality of the shot, and saves the photographer the task of photoshopping the minister out. (They can't deny--I know they do it :)
Here's the same picture, except that I did a quick removal of my face--a pro would certainly be able to do a better job than I did, but I think you can see the point.

So far this has proven to be a small but significant improvement that couples like, and the photographers really appreciate. Additionally, by stepping to one side, it puts the minister beside the couple to be introduced as husband and wife for the first time.

There are other little "tricks" like this that I may mention from time to time. Point is, all 17 of us at LoveNotes take the details very seriously, to the point that we discuss and practice everything so that we may give the couple their wedding, their way.

By the way, in the picture above right, those are my own beady little eyes peaking out.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two cultures, two faiths

…two hearts into one heart

I was recently contacted by a couple whose wedding is planned in 2009. They want a ceremony with some traditional Persian elements included. Their request brought to mind a ceremony I officiated in 2007 in Fort Worth. Leigh and Afshin chose to integrate traditional American elements and traditional Persian elements into their ceremony.

Brief history and geography lesson: Persia is the ancient name of what is now Iran.

Among the interesting features of a Persian wedding is that the bride and groom sit at a low table covered with a ceremonial cloth called a “sofreh aghd”, which contains various sweets, pastries, nuts and ornamental items symbolizing reality, honesty, prosperity, fertility, sweetness and good wishes. The bride sits first, on the groom’s left, closest to his heart. The Khallehghand is a special Persian tradition that takes place during the ceremony in which the couple’s close married female family members and friends rub two sugar cones together above the couple’s heads as the couple is covered by a cloth or fabric. This act symbolizes the sweetness of the couple’s new life.

Readings follow, in this case some in English from the Christian Bible, some fro
m the “Odes of Hafiz”, a 14th century Persian poet. There were some phrases and questions I addressed to the bride and groom in the Farsi language. (note: don’t try this at home—if you aren’t accustomed to speaking Farsi, you may damage your throat and tongue :)

There were other customs celebrated but I won’t go into all of them. The point is that the end result was a breathtakingly beautiful and romantic ceremony, celebrating the joining of two faiths, two cultures, two families and two hearts into one. Leigh and Afshin chose to take the best of what each culture has to offer
and combine them in their wedding. If I were to go into detail about the food, music and dancing at the reception, it would take another few pages. Suffice it to say that the Ashton Depot in Fort Worth was a happy place that evening. The staff at Ashton Depot truly knows how to throw a party and they could probably teach a course in "hospitality".

I recently spoke to Leigh by phone and she graciously volunteered to give advice to my couple scheduled next year. She and Afshin currently live and work in New Jersey. When they’re in Texas next time, maybe we’ll get to visit and I can check the knot that I tied for them.