The Scoop: Relationship Coach and Wedding Officiant Larry James knows what it takes to make love last. He has worked with hundreds of clients and has written four books that have sold more than 250,000 copies. As a non-denominational minister, he has also officiated over 1,100 religious- and non-religious wedding ceremonies — and fewer than 25 of those couples have divorced. Larry said one key component of love is balancing the time a couple spends together and apart. Another is always prioritizing the relationship, not just working on it when partners struggle.

Larry James has been a relationship coach, professional speaker, and author since 1987, and around 21 years ago, he embarked on a new journey as a wedding officiant.

One of his first weddings was anything but typical. It took place on a hot air balloon near Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lives. He said the view from the air extended for miles.

After that first wedding, Larry even gained notoriety as a hot air balloon wedding officiant.

“Hot Air Expeditions is one of the largest balloon companies in the US, and they only recommend me as a minister to do their wedding ceremonies. So I do a lot of hot air balloon weddings!” Larry said with a laugh.

Photo of Relationship Coach and Wedding Officiant Larry James
Larry James offers couples advice and wedding officiant services.

He also has officiated more than 25 beach weddings at Rocky Point in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, two at a zoo, and many where the couple requested he wear some interesting attire. Once he wore a pirate costume; another time, everyone, including Larry and the couple’s parents, dressed as kings, queens, or knights.

Though most of the weddings he officiates are near Phoenix, Larry also has a nationwide reputation. Recently, a couple in Minnesota asked him to officiate their ceremony.

“I called authorities in Minnesota and made sure I could do a legal wedding. A lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes that most people don’t know. Families may want to get their uncle to do it for free, but there aren’t a lot of people who will train on the intricacies of making sure it’s legal and OK,” he said.

Larry also said he believes that weddings should be playful, meaningful, and unique.

“A wedding should be fun, instructive, and entertaining to the guests. Everybody ought to have a good time and live happily ever after. I’ve done over 1,100 weddings, and so far, only have 25 that I know are divorced,” he said.

More Than 1,100 Weddings Officiated

Larry has officiated weddings across the country but prefers to stick close to home for ceremonies in nearby states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. He also connects with couples in Oklahoma, where he once lived, and Kansas, his home state. He officiates ceremonies for couples of all identities.

“I do LGBTQ+ ceremonies as well. I’ve had some really lovely ceremonies. It just matters — ‘Do you love each other? OK, let’s do this.’ That’s the way I feel,” he said.

When Larry officiates weddings, couples have complete control over the ceremony. Before the big day, he sits down with the partners and discusses what he will say, word for word. They can take out anything they don’t like, and put in anything they want, including scriptures, favorite poems, or meaningful quotes.

He offers a support system for couples who want to say something to each other during the ceremony.

“I always encourage them to write vows to say to each other, even one or two lines. It doesn’t matter how long it is as long as it’s from the heart,” said Larry.

When it comes to marriage vows, he takes a liberal interpretation. For instance, he changes the phrase “honor and obey” to “honor and respect.” He has also modified the phrase, “you will now kiss your bride.”

“I don’t think that’s appropriate. I don’t believe she’s your property, and that’s what it suggests. When it comes to the kiss, I say, ‘you may now kiss the bride,’ or ‘you may now seal your promises with a kiss,’” he told us.

Coaching Couples Through Relationship Struggles

Larry has seen hundreds of couples at their best while officiating so many weddings. But he has also connected with couples at their worst through his relationship coaching.

Many couples seek a coach because they haven’t put enough effort into making their relationships work. Instead, they believe in the concept of a soul mate, which, Larry suggests, often leads them to believe their relationships will be effortlessly successful.

“If it’s truly a soul mate, then why are you not able to hang in there and make it work. I’m not sure I believe in soul mates. I believe in the special connections we make. Those that teach us what we hadn’t learned about ourselves and our relationships,” he said.

Larry recommended couples pay attention to each other and listen to the little things if they want to make their relationships last.

“It’s the little things that keep the relationship together, and you need to know how to handle the big issues that come along,” he said.

He said that some couples struggle because they spend too much time together. That has been a particular problem during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the things that people need to learn is how to be together a lot more. So, I tried to help people understand that it’s OK to disappear for a little while,” he told us. “You need your own time and space to kind of get back to what we were doing — I don’t want to say normal because there is no normal but to keep pushing.” Larry Considers His Lasting Impact

Larry has written four books that have sold more than 250,000 copies combined. Perhaps his most famous is “How to Really Love the One You’re With,” which earned him an interview on “The View” with Barbara Walters.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Larry has continued to focus on improving relationships. He hasn’t been writing books but rather constructing “quote pictures” that he posts on Facebook.

“I noticed recently that I’ve written a lot on love and relationships, but I’ve also written on anger. There are a lot of angry people out there,” he said.

The logo offers resources to help couples improve their relationships.

Facebook and Twitter are two platforms that have served Larry well. Couples who follow him on social media often reach out and ask him to perform their wedding ceremonies.

He suggests that readers interested in relationship advice follow him on social media or read some of the more than 700 posts he has on his website, Larry said he hopes that everything he writes reaches someone who can use his advice. Perhaps a passage from one of his books or a social media post will open a reader’s eyes.

“I’ve had a lot of turning points in my life that just happened by accident, it seems, but I know there are no accidents, and everything happens for a reason,” he said.

After nearly three decades as a relationship coach, Larry says he spends a lot of time thinking about his lasting impact. He wants his legacy to be that people read his work or remember their wedding vows and think about how important love is in their lives.

He said he hopes one particular piece of advice will linger in couples’ minds long after the ceremony:

“Relationships are something that must be worked on all the time. Not only when they’re broken and need to be fixed,” he said.