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This is June, the month of brides. More couples get married in June than any other month, although August is catching up.

May, September and July rank third, fourth and fifth in number that are solemnized. Half of all weddings in a year take place between May and September.

(Guess which months the lines are shortest at the Marriage License Bureau!)

If you haven't attended a wedding in a long time, you may be surprised (pleasantly) to learn that the traditional wedding service is back in style. However, I still let the couples I marry add their personal touches to the service. If they want me to read things from Kahlil Gibran like"Let there be spaces in your togetherness," I will do so.

Or if they want to omit the line from the marriage service that reads "If any man can show just cause why these persons may not lawfully be joined together, let him speak now or for ever hold his peace," I will omit it - although I rather like its strong tone.

Sometimes, though, I draw the line on changes or additions, as I did when the couple being married wanted to make a small modification to their vows. In place of "Will thou love her (him), comfort her (him), honor and keep her (him) in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, keep the only unto her (him), so long as ye both shall live?" they wanted to end it with "so long as we both shall love."

I saw a good excuse for a divorce lurking in the words "so long as we both shall love." They were told to say the conventional words.

On occasion I will add my own changes to the service.

While I was joining Don and Cathy in holy matrimony, I said to them, "The best advise I can give you for a happy marriage is to tell you to say "I love you' to each other often and forever during your married life together."

Then I said to the congregation of 150, "I am going to ask those of you who came here
with your spouse - or loved one - to turn to him or her now, hold his or her hand, and looking each other in the eye, say out loud, 'I love you.'"

Well, they did it. The church reverberated with people saying "I love you." Some people told me later that they hadn't said that to their spouses in years!

I got my idea from watching an old Jack Lemmon movie. Lemmon's character, who is married in the film, is explaining why he takes his shirts to Andre's French laundry instead of having his wife do them.

He says it is because he never has to tell Andre he loves him whenever he picks up his shirts.

Therein lies one of the reasons marriages fail - or fail to be what they might be: We have forgotten to say "I love you" - or, as in the case of Lemmon's character, it has become a chore.

It isn't enough that love be present in a marriage. It must be expressed in words as well as in deeds, coupled with a tender squeeze of the hand.

I understand what one of my colleagues meant when he said, "I would advise couples planning their wedding to 'lean heavily on persons and institutions far more experienced than you or I' in planning one of the great events of their life."

In a way, I agree. Still, I wonder. What should really be embarrassing to us is that we take so lightly the vows we made on the occasion of our wedding (or weddings, as the case may be).

Whether those promises are made in Elizabethan English or modern slang is really unimportant. It is keeping the promise that matters.

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