So last month I got married in Hawaii.  My wife’s family came from Spainland, and my family came from the even more exotic paradise that is Illinois, and we spent a week on Kauai.  We kayaked, hiked through canyons, frolicked with sea turtles, failed miserably at bodyboarding, saw dolphins, and capped it all off with a ceremony and dinner and dancing beside the ocean.  It was absolutely perfect.

Except that Hawaii decided to play host to two tropical storms the weekend we were supposed to arrive.  Two of them, because apparently one hurricane just isn’t enough.  Hawaii hasn’t had a hurricane hit for over 30 years; that’s why we made it a state, because it’s such a great and safe place to visit.  Unless you’re planning a wedding, in which case Hawaii’s all like, “Hey guys, you know what you forgot to add to the wedding list?  A sharknado.  But don’t worry, I’ve got that covered.  I’ll also try to impale you with some flying coconut trees too.”

Needless to say, sometimes things happen that you aren’t counting on.  Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry (which is true enough even though I highly doubt that mice do very much planning).  So the next time your plans decide to not go exactly according to plan, try keeping these ideas in mind:

Focus On What You Can Control

Sometimes paint colors don’t look the same on the wall as they do on the little swatch thingy.  Sometimes your product design runs into an unexpectant snag.  And sometimes your friends buy you an animal-print Speedo and make you wear it in public because they think it’ll make your bachelor party more enjoyable.  (Not that that happened to me, mind you.)  You can either focus on all the things beyond your immediate control, or you can concentrate on the part of the world you truly can influence.  One path will make you stressed, frustrated, miserable, angry, bitter and really tedious to hang out with – and the other will, you know, do the opposite of that.

Remember What’s Really Important

During the planning of our wedding, my wife and I agonized over menu designs, napkin colors, chair sashes, and sippy cups.  We seriously had sippy cups for the babies at our wedding, and you have no idea how much time and energy and money we spent to find the perfect sippy cups for babies who DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY’RE STARING AT and probably can’t appreciate our color scheme.  And, oh yeah I love you and want to spend my life with you.  I’m sure some of your plans are critical, and in those cases it makes sense to get upset when things don’t work out the way they need to.  But more often than you might realize, most of our plans are what we’d like to happen, not what we need to happen.  Concentrate on what’s necessary, and a lot of your stress will melt away.

Re-Imagine All Those Mistakes As Fun Stories To Tell Your Friends Later

I’m pretty sure the officiant for our wedding had no idea where he was.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know his own name.  But I’m absolutely certain that he didn’t know my name, because he screwed it up three times during the ceremony.  Three times.  Three.  He kept confusing me with my best man, who is also my brother.  The third time he did it he apologized by saying, “Well, Matt, you’re just so memorable,” which kinda-sorta implies that I personally am monumentally forgettable.  “Do you, Laura, take…um…this completely nondescript person…um…”  I could be mad about that, I suppose.  Or I could remember that as the one thing for our wedding that went wrong that will be a fun story to tell for the next forever.  “Hey, honey, remember that time when our wedding officiant had an acid flashback and tried to marry you to my brother?”  Given enough time, many of the things that happen to us either end up being good experiences or good stories.  When things go wrong, see if there’s any way to salvage a good story out of it.  You’ll be surprised how often you can.

I hope that helps, and I hope you enjoy learning more about my wedding.  I also hope you consider doing a trip to Kauai sometime soon.  I’m sure the weather there will be absolutely perfect until my wife and I decide to renew our vows, but I’ll let you know when that’s going to happen so you can plan your vacation for any other time than that.


  1. Jeff –
    Congratulations on your wedding! Looks like you’ve been doing some Disaster Recovery planning!
    Your tips are the basis for any good Contingency plan! – Focus on what you can control & Remember what’s really important. Nail those two down & the rest will fall into place. 🙂

    Again my Congratulations to you & your new Bride & I hope our paths cross again in the near future.


    Patti Fitzgerald

  2. Matt…I mean Jeff… I hate it when I do that.

    Congratulations on a successful ceremony. I really liked your comments about taking the bad and turning it into a funny story to be repeated many times in the future. You Rock.

    Paul Cesak

  3. Jeff,

    My wife and I are going to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary soon. Thank you for taking the hurricane hit for us; the islands have now been officially “pre-disastered”. The chance of another hurricane hitting soon is astronomical. Thanks again and I owe you one.


  4. Love it. My wife has probably already checked Facebook to see if any animal print Speedo pic has surfaced.

    Remember how our wedding officiant at Monteagle accidentally made us say our vows twice? We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that moment in the last six years. You’re comments are right on!

  5. Jeff,

    Out of all the motivational speakers we have heard over the years, you have been a stand out and a class all your own. It’s hard to believe anyone could forget YOUR name!! Congratulations on the wedding and also for surviving the first two storms of your marriage! The rest will be a piece of cake. 🙂 Wishing you the best and smooth sailing for many, many years to come.

    Billy, Laurie and Julie Tesh
    NPMA Academy 2014

  6. Great article and I can relate. While we were on our honeymoon in Aruba we received a letter informing us that we had been exposed to measles by our minister who performed the wedding and to be aware that we might get them. We still laugh at that 32 years later. congrats on your wedding and much happiness.

  7. So true, so true. I like this message and could have used it this morning in a meeting. We also have a choice how we will respond to the things we cannot control, like the time my wife and I went on our honeymoon 19 years ago and met a dear friend, hurricane Roxanne. We were sequestered with 12 other folks in a 600 square foot house in downtown Cancun for 24 hours, far far away from the luxury hotels. Have we got a few stories for you!

    Congrats on the nuptials. Keep up the great work!

  8. Hey Matt, er, Jeff!

    Great message. Greater story! Greatest news!!

    You’re going to dig being married. Me and mine are coming up on 20 years and I the happy just keeps on happenin’!

    I look forward to the next time our paths cross,

    PS – You didn’t go to Cabo this past week, did you?

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