Expert Pauline H. Tesler of Tesler, Sandmann & Fishman, who in partnership with her husband, Peter Sandmann, has law offices in Mill Valley and San Francisco and is a co-author of Collaborative Divorce: The Revolutionary New Way to Restructure Your Family, Resolve Legal Issues, and Move On With Your Life (HarperCollins, 2006).
1. You already have a prenuptial agreement, called the California Family Code. You and your fiance can instead create your own prenup based on your unique values and priorities—or be stuck downstream with one-size-fits-all rules about every aspect of your financial marriage.
2. Don’t do it yourself—this is a highly technical field of law.
3. A prenup that generates marital harmony rather than harm involves financial and emotional as well as legal aspects. Look for collaborative family lawyers who will help you both work out a customized agreement face to face. You’ll have built-in expert legal advice plus the extra resources of a professional team that includes psychologist-coaches (who can safely guide difficult conversations toward better understanding) and a neutral financial consultant (who helps create solutions that can work for both of you, now and over time).
Buying a Diamond
Expert Deleuse Jewelers’ certified gemologist Jeff Deleuse
1. Carat. With two diamonds of equal clarity and color, one weighing .99 ct and the other 1.00 ct., the .99 ct will be substantially less expensive than the full one-carat diamond.
2. Clarity. Clarity grades refer to the number, position and size of the internal characteristics of the diamond (called inclusions), which interrupt the free flow of light in a faceted diamond.
The top grades include:
IF: Internally flawless
VVS1 to VVS2: Very very slightly imperfect
VS1 to VS2: Very slightly imperfect
SI1 to SI2: Slightly imperfect
Only 1 to 2 percent of the top 20 percent of all diamonds will be flawless or in the VVS categories.
3. Color. Grading relates to the inherent body color a diamond possesses. Diamonds naturally appear in an array of colors, red and blue being the rarest. A diamond of fine color within this grading scale will mean a diamond with absence of color. The grading system begins with the letter D (no color) and goes to Z, a fancy yellow. D-E-F are considered colorless, G-H-I-J are near colorless, followed by K-L-M, which have a slight yellow cast.
Expert Jodi Klugman-Rabb, MFT, who offers premarital counseling and coaching in her San Rafael practice
1. Premarital counseling clarifies mutual goals and needs by getting all unspoken expectations out in the open. The vast majority of conflicts arise from unmet needs and expectations that were never directly addressed early on in the relationship.
2. Premarital counseling can save a marriage before it starts because the signs of conflict are present before the vows are exchanged. While still in the “honeymoon phase” people are willing to overlook potential problems in their mates so as not to create problems.
3. Any good therapist or clergy will look seriously at the role family history plays in each person’s life and how those strengths and struggles will affect the couple going forward.
Becoming an Officiant
Expert Stephanie Portillo, San Anselmo–based event planner
1. Know the rules and regulations for the county you are to marry in. Most counties allow anyone over the age of 18 to serve as a Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages for the day. In Marin, it’s a nominal fee of $60 and can be taken care of anytime before the service.
2. Have an idea of who your crowd is and be prepared. While your main concern will always be the couple that is being joined, be sensitive to family members who may have deep religious beliefs when suggesting verses and selecting your clothing for the day. Ideally, you would have met with the couple a few times to craft the “perfect” ceremony, including special readings that will mean the most to the couple.
3. You are the leader! While the wedding planner or coordinator will be able to take charge of the day, the ceremony is your orchestra. The couple, wedding party, guests, musicians and planner will follow your outline, so make sure you feel comfortable leading the charge; this is why rehearsals are so crucial for all members of the wedding party to attend.
Writing Your Own Vows
Expert Assistant Professor Carlos Rodríguez, Department of Literature and Language at Dominican University of California
1. A vow is your word, so make promises in your words, in the way you speak.
2. Vows should be made to the marriage as well as to each other, “I promise to exalt our union…”, “I will honor our love…”
3. Vows are promises/oaths mutually taken and not rationales/reasons for why you love someone.
Marrying a Divorcée
Expert Mill Valley author Adryenn Ashley, author of Every Single Girl’s Guide to Her Future Husband’s Last Divorce
1. Read the divorce decree. Many people think they know what they are obligated to do, but often what we remember and act on isn’t exactly what we’re on the hook for. So pull out the judgment and read it. If you have ongoing obligations, have the ex sign a Satisfaction of Judgment to release you from any claims prior. Record that document with the county and you’ve got a clean slate. Now keep it that way!
2. Talk about money. So many people get married without having the difficult discussions about money. Think about it: we’re more willing to discuss how many sexual partners we’ve had and the crazy things we’ve done with them than we are about how many credit cards we have and how many times we’ve gone over limit! A good place to start is by exchanging credit reports. It’ll get the conversation started and provide the insight you need into how your future spouse deals with money.
3. Protect your assets. Keeping your assets separate may sound unromantic but in an age where more than 1 in 4 people will end up in court, not putting all your eggs in one basket makes good economic sense. Remember, it’s the 50-year wedding anniversary, not just seeing your names on the same check, that make a successful marriage! And while you’re at it, think prenup! It’s not to protect you from each other, it’s to protect you for each other.