"I want to make you a promise, and invite you into something."

The hardest things to describe are the obvious ones.

There was never any question that she wanted to marry him. But she wasn't sure about taking his last name. Her name was cooler, but it was more than that. Something about identity. Something about a fear of losing herself in him. Something, too, about losing her family and everything she'd known. It was turning into a bigger deal than she'd ever expected.

And for him, it felt like an insult. A rejection. He'd definitely never thought about it before. But he didn't want to be a bully, either. What to do?

Eventually there was a long drive home, a tedious conversation on the Interstate, and he stumbled onto the idea that he was offering her something when he offered her his name. He started to tell her what his own name meant to him. What sort of promises came with it for her. 

He didn't win her over with his conversation and with his descriptions. She did end up taking his name simply because she wanted to be with him and she wanted to build a shared identity together. But that conversation started both of them thinking.

Would his brothers, father, uncles, and the rest of the family say the name meant what he said? What was he leaving out? Where would they answer differently? 

And what about what she was bringing to the family? Was she immigrating to his family, was she importing her family into his, were they mixing them, or were they starting something new? 

They ended up creating "welcome to the family" guides for each other.


  • Principal interviews
  • Family surveys
  • Design to match wedding
  • Printed book
  • Wedding handouts
  • Wedding reception trivia games
  • Commissioned art 
  • Original music
  • Family-to-family gifts
  • 2-12 month total engagement time

Please think of this as an abbreviated list of variations from which we can build the engagement.

The process involved a few choices about what topics they wanted to have their extended families engage via simple online survey tools, then some review of the results, a bit of layout and design, and printing.

"If our family was a dog breed, what breed would we be? And what breeds do we tend to marry?"

"What are the secrets to dealing with the men in our family? The women?"

"What are the family catch phrases?"

"What are our family's greatest successes? Failures?"

"At what age do our family members tend to peak?"

"What are the most interesting trend lines in our family?" 

They added a variety of statistics, a family tree with photos, contact information, and simple claims to fame or ways to remember each member. Recipes. Simple advice about best ways to help, how to dress for or think about certain events, how to navigate challenging topics, and a bunch of silly policies about wrapped gifts vs gift bags, the appropriateness of cash or gift cards, chores, toilet paper, and the most important tips for a happy home.

It made for a fun read, a few important conversations, a lot of laughs at the wedding, and far more comfort for both of them as they launched out into their life together.