As each state has achieved marriage equality, there’s a wave same-sex couples rushing to legalize and formalize their relationships that follows.

And, if you are one of these blissful Arizona couples, you will need someone to officiate your ceremony. Here are 10 do’s and don’ts to follow as you look for a minister or officiant for your big day:

DO NOT expect that every ordained minister who is gay wants to marry you for free just because you’re gay, too. Although those who are ordained are happy to help you on your special day, it doesn’t mean you should be expected to take away time from their busy lives for free. Gay ordained ministers are professional too, and their time is valuable.

DO expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a ceremony. Some ministers charge by the hour and others by the service, so be sure to ask questions and find out up front what is customary for your minister.

DO NOT ask your minister to provide witnesses. When signing your marriage license, you will need an officiant and two witnesses to sign the document. If you do not have at least two friends who are willing to stand up with you and witness, you might reconsider getting married.

DO make friends with someone besides your Chihuahuas, your cats and your partner.

DO NOT feel insulted if the minister requires at least one pre-marital counseling session. The minister has a responsibility to the sanctity of marriage, their ordaining organization and the state to sign the certificate in good conscious that this union is viable and sustainable. It’s nothing personal.

DO get at least one session of pre-marital counseling. This small investment of time can save you large amounts of heartache, stress and money in the future. Counselors charge less per hour than divorce attorneys.

DO NOT expect your minister to plan and organize your ceremony. It’s YOUR ceremony; the minister is only there to provide a service of ceremony and documentation. Every couple is different in their ideas of what a ceremony should be. So if you don’t know what you want, don’t expect the minister to know for you.

DO get a wedding coordinator!

DO NOT ask an ordained minister to “just sign the marriage license”. They are not Notaries Public who just stamp and sign your much-anticipated piece of paper.

DO one stop shop at the Justice of the Peace if it’s just a legal document for you.

Last, but not least, DO your homework before jumping on the marriage equality bandwagon and DO respect everyone you’re involving in your marriage experience.

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


Keep reading Show less
Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


Keep reading Show less

I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

Keep reading Show less