Happily Ever After: My Toast to Amanda and April

It’s every father’s dream to watch their children grow up and marry their soul-mate – and I’m beyond blessed to have seen this wish fulfilled this weekend for my amazing daughter Amanda. Her wedding to April this weekend was a unique and beautiful experience that really captured the essence of their amazing relationship.

I thank them both for making me part of their special day, and wish them both endless bliss and happiness as they begin this exciting new chapter of their lives. Thanks for everyone who helped make this such a special day for our family. For those of you who weren’t there to share in this joyous occasion, I’ve included the text from my toast for Amanda and April below. Congratulations! I’m so excited and happy for you both!

Keep Growing!

-JR Ridinger


Amanda and April’s Wedding Toast

Thank you all for coming and thank all of you that came together to make this possible.

One thing is for sure: this is a special gathering of people who really wanted to be here and a very small and select group was invited.  And everyone here really wanted to be here and wouldn’t miss it and it certainly is not out of formal obligatory edict like most weddings.

This is unique and different than a traditional wedding (which is usually mostly out of the “can”), as it is unusual, untraditional, creative and a special experience. I fully understand and appreciate it from my own experiences and perspective.

  • My 1st marriage in a past life was done by friends and family without professional assistance and a combined effort for under a few $1000’s in expenses. Everyone made it into an incredible time.
  • Then Loren and I eloped when we jumped ship on a cruise and got married on the beach, like today, but in Barbados years ago.
  • We did it to avoid controversy, bickering and criticism.
  • The wedding party was rented. We were the only white people at the wedding and I guess that is why I was comfortable. It was a magical day that we shall cherish forever.

I think it is appropriate to make statement about marriage in general and this different wedding today. Marriage is about a union of two people and as a result it is supposed to be about:

  • Making 2 people better.
  • I know that for most traditionally married couples that is not the case.
  • Bringing greater happiness to each partner.
  • Most married couples I know struggle with that.
  • Love and caring for each other intimately
  • Again, for most couples that quickly dissipates and they just go through the motions
  • But for the last several years that is not the case with Amanda and April as they are abundant in all three ways.

So in many ways their Marriage is symbolic of the way it is supposed to be between to souls. Now I am known for getting any question or concern right out on the table and saying what others are wondering but reluctant to ask or say. So in case there anyone here confused or concerned let me help you out.

I would like to read what was eloquently stated by a California Supreme Court judge about untraditional marriages in one of the first such decisions setting a new standard.  Remember that they considered and listened to everything that could be possibly offered on the subject from every possible position, side and source. It is very eloquently stated:

 “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents…

The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law, Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals…

“They seek the mutual obligation and honor that attend marriage… seek recognition from the state that their union is ‘a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.’”

Someone said to me:  “Yes, but it is not sanctified or consecrated by God. My answer is: “well, then my God is much bigger than yours.  All sacred doctrine says that love is the highest of all virtues and overrides or conquers all. The highest doctrine is to follow one’s conscience and heart. And what happened to the gospel: Judge not that you be not judged?” Besides – it is not your choice, it is their choice! I rather go with lyrics the Beatles immortalized: “All you need is LOVE, LOVE is all you need.”

That being said and put to bed – know this about marriage for Amanda and April:

  • A good marriage must be created.
  • In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…
  • It is never being too old to hold hands.
  • It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once each day.
  • It is never going to sleep angry.
  • It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
  • It is standing together facing the world.
  • It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
  • It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
  • It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
  • It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
  • It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
  • It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
  • It is not only marrying the right partner – It is being the right partner.

I know that Amanda and April have demonstrated and exemplify all of this. Congratulations! Interesting and appropriately enough: the song for father daughter dance Amanda and I selected was:  Over the Rainbow.

  • Some think it is a bit of an unusual choice, but I can tell you it is an appropriate choice.
  • For some it was unexpected being that she or they is in the music business and not a highly used wedding song.
  • Amanda likes it because many friends say that it reminds them of her.
  • I agree because it does exemplify her personality and mind and soul.
  • In regard to this, Amanda always marched to the beat of a different drummer.
  • She always was had an imagination and was a dreamer!
  • She has always been on a journey of discovery.
  • Amanda is a dreamer, visionary, and a possibility thinker.

There are many qualities and dimensions that characterize Amanda:

  • Amanda is like a super-hero when it comes to friendship. She is a SUPER friend to anyone she takes in has been blessed. Most of the people she becomes friends with she is with through thick and thin and for as 10 to 20 years or as long as she has known them.
  • She is also a Survivor, tough, resilient, self-reliant, self- sufficient.
  • Amanda has Dreams – She wants everything — But she doesn’t need anything!
  • Amanda and April are Urbanized Nature children.


  • Urban because they are street wise and I can tell you that Amanda worked the streets of North Philadelphia hard and that is as tough if not tougher of a neighborhood than West LA, Harlem, or Bronx and Queens.
  • When things were not working out for her a teenager and on graduating high school she couldn’t get her Mother or myself to agree with her on issues, so she moved to the Woods and lived in Woods for several months.


  • I watch with amazement Amanda and April scale a 3 story rock climbing wall in record speed like 2 monkeys or spiders. That is Nature Girls from the city.
  • Life has not been easy for Amanda and she has survived and grown into a beautiful person and woman.
  • She is sensitive, caring, and open minded.
  • She is a great listener.
  • She is Smart: Graduating with honors from Burlington Jr. College and Five Towns University in Music Management
  • She is a leader and not a follower.
  • I told Amanda she should be a lawyer because she argues about everything and generally wins – right or wrong!
  • She walks in her Grandfather legacy. He was a famous football coach and teacher admired by 1000’s and modeled his philosophy of life after the poem: “I Know something Good about You” which was about finding the good in people. And Amanda you have walked in his footsteps and exceeded his expectations. Amanda works hard at finding the good in everyone.
  • She is an expert at finding the good in people
  • But, first and foremost she is an Entrepreneur – Launching Conquer has been 7 years of uphill battle and now she is beginning to triumph.
  • She has clinically confirmed to have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Most geniuses do.
  • It is actually funny: How many times has she lost her keys when time matters, how many times has she broken or lost her Phone, and when she has it the battery is dead and the phone is not working. I think she replaced it 6 times a year.
  • I told her if her head was not connected to her body she would lose it.

That’s where April comes in!

  • She finds her Keys or has an extra pair hidden.
  • She has phone charged and finds Amanda’s by GPS locator or backtracks it.
  • As a couple they are the: The “Anything You can do I can do better than You” couple. Because what one can’t do the other can. And if neither can they can do it together. And when that doesn’t work they will get someone else to do it!
  • When it comes to April the best way to Judge her is by her smile! What she is about radiates through her smile.
  • In fact that is true of both of them.
  • They are the perfect complement and team: The epitome of Ying and Yang
  • Where one lacks the other makes up or is strong.
  • They met in college at Five Towns University here in Nassau county Long Island studying Music and music management.
  • Of course, they are both artistic and Amanda is a self-proclaimed lawyer + entrepreneur by nature.
  • They have been inseparable ever since.
  • Some of you know that they have survived all types of trauma, drama, adventures, episodes, emergencies, crises, defeats and victories together!
  • SO, they are just perfect compliments and truly a magical combination.
  • Where do they live? I don’t know?
  • When I was trying to fill out an application for them
  • Or answering a lawyer about family
  • It ask where they live.
  • That’s hard to answerer and I am not sure anyone knows, even them.
  • I answer: “Where-ever they are.”
  • Wherever they are this month or in their motor home is where home is for them.
  • No jury duty for them!
  • Both are givers and would give away everything if they were rich…..and then have to make it back again.
  • I have watched them for several years and know they have found happiness in each other and are better together than apart.
  • They tried men…and gave up. But they found strength in each other, love and happiness.
  • AND happiness is the ultimate goal in life –so I am so happy because my princess is happy.
  • April is always to the rescue and does whatever has to be done and prevents them from crashing or speeding off a cliff.
  • Most importantly: they are adorable together.


So Consider Amanda’s song.  “Somewhere over the Rainbow” It tells it like it is and captures their personalities. Listen to the lyrics carefully:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high

There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream,

Really do come true.


Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,

High above the chimney tops,

That’s where you’ll find me.


Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow

Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why can’t I?”


This is somewhere over the rainbow and they found the answer in each other. So let me speak to that for a minute to the bigger picture of where that song comes from:

The song comes from the book and movie, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Consider the observation that the movie or book is really their story too.

The story is actually a parable. Consider the meaning of the story: The Wizard of Oz is really an allegory about life and an analogy or metaphor about the journey of self-discovery or actualization and enlightenment on the pathway to happiness, fulfillment and success. Of course, to get there, we have many challenges and experiences to learn from and it is done with a team of characters or friends with different strengths and weaknesses. THE WIZARD OF OZ story exemplifies or mirrors Amanda and April’s journey with all their friends here today.

The Characters are colorful and unforgettable and each represent or symbolize important traits. So when we look around this gathering and see her friends we realize that this really is The Wizard of Oz story on the yellow brick road to find the answer. Just look at their friends and the journey and you will be quick to agree if you know them! So we are on the Yellow Brick road.

Of course Amanda or April are really two Dorothy’s. Amanda for sure and April her compliment or matching pair when it comes to this.

REALLY, I would like to modify the story and think that they both had the “Kansas cyclone experience” and were dropped there in Oz and along with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion who the met there; took the journey following the yellow brick road together! Let’s look at that in a second.

But I also can’t help but digress and mention the Feminist allegory or interpretation I see in the story. LOL

First, consider the fact that anyone who actually has any real power in Oz; like Dorothy and the witches — is female.

And, perhaps just as important, note how the men are all lacking to some degree:

  • be they wizards without power
  • lions without courage
  • tin men without hearts
  • or scarecrows without brains

And at the end of the rainbow there is supposed to be a pot of gold…RIGHT? Well, I think you have found it in your love and relationship. I know you are already happy and will continue to be happy.


I hope you accomplish your mission and get rich with Conquer! Set an example for others and make dreams possible by your example.

And then… pay me back. LOL

But the Oz story is really about Amanda and April and this group. It is an allegory of life with many, metaphors, analogies and symbolic characters and events woven into it.

Again, it is about a journey of self-actualization to enlightenment and confidence. It’s primarily a journey of discovery where the characters succeed by overcoming their own short-comings. They also have to work together using each other’s strength to get there.

Even before leaving Kansas we see the symbolic character analogies:

  • Auntie Em and Uncle Henry could not stop Miss Gulch from taking Toto (her beloved dog) who bit someone and they wanted to put Totto down.
  • Imagine Dorothy Amanda or April’s reaction to that!
  • Miss Gulch represented authority, dogma, blind entitlement, one size fits all pontifications, and a rigid establishment of contradictions.
  • Aunt EMY is a coward to take a stance on anything.
  • Uncle Henry is a mentally constipated old man who had no dreams.
  • Dorothy rebels against dogma, authorities to save the one thing she loved at home – Totto. That’s about all she liked in Grey Kansas on the farm. Not 50 Shades of Grey…..just grey, confining and dismal.
  • Kansas was where she was stuck in life. It was boredom, limitation and dismal.
  • So the storm (tornado) or cyclone comes and sweeps the house away with Dorothy and Totto in it.
  • The Cyclone or Tornado represent the storms of life that upset the apple cart that create opportunity:
  • Those Traumatic events causing conflict.
  • The Problems that lead us to where we want to go.
  • Discovering the answers is what brings us “home” again to fulfillment within manifesting happiness, fulfillment and success.
  • Cyclones, problems, and bad things can mean spiritual growth
  • So the house crashes down in OZ and results in the death of the wicked witch of the East
  • This represents the end of drudgery and presents opportunity.
  • All things work for good in the end if we are true to ourselves.
  • Please note that the adults at home in Kansas didn’t help. The same for Amanda and April. In fact the adults at home were part of the problem.
  • Dorothy learns of the Colorful city of Emerald City and Land of OZ with  the wizard of OZ from the Munchkins.
  • Munchkins represent Truth or simple facts–innocent young people on the road who tell us what is going on and point us in the right direction to Emerald City.
  • So then it is: FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD. You all know the story I hope.
  • Of course this represents the theme: CHASE A DREAM or IDEAL or PASSION or HOPE!
  • But OZ has all types of temptations, illusions, distractions and spiritual traps
  • Dorothy as well as Amanda and April–MEET CHARACTERS ALONG THE WAY and they play a part in the process:
  • Scare crow discovering his intelligence,
  • The Tin Man’s caring,
  • and the Cowardly Lion’s courage.
  • And of course: Oz “the great and powerful” is really a somewhat pathetic old man who doesn’t even know how to work the balloon that he sails off in.
  • They (the friends or characters) were all different and had different strengths and weaknesses and by working together as friends they not only discovered themselves but overcame every obstacle and made it together. That is just like this group. They found within what they thought they lacked.
  • The Tin man: found a Heart and love
  • The scare crow found his Brain or wisdom
  • The Lion: found his Courage.
  • Interesting that it was already present in them before they got to emerald city and where recognized for it.
  • However, if Dorothy (Amanda and April) had not been transported to OZ – would not have attained:
  • the insight and growth
  • Realization of her power of believing in one’s self and enlightenment which gives them the power of the universe.
  • With enlightenment the desires of our heart, success and happiness have always been there are realized at home.
  • Then we have other important symbolic characters:
  • Glenda-The good witch of North who gave Dorothy the Ruby Slippers: the power within, self-realization, and Universal Consciousness. The lesson is that we must learn from ourselves by following the yellow brick road.
  • The wicked Witch of West represents the people and things that try to get us or deprive and rob us of our would be good.
  • Interestingly enough she is destroyed by accident by Dorothy while staying true to her cause and purpose helping her friends and protecting what she loves when she throws a bucket of water that hits the witch and melts her. She could never willfully kill or destroy.
  • It ends up not being the answer and a lie, and a fraud.
  • While the Wizard is a charlatan and OZ, the Emerald city and Wizard of OZ are all false realities.
  • Even the Hot air Balloon was not the solution to take them home to Kansas and would have resulted in failure if not disaster. But again Dorothy following her heart to save her “intuitive Totto who jumped out.
  • The she realized all she had to do is believe and Click the magic slippers to be home fully enlightened, self-actualized in Kansas now happy because it was home and she had found happiness inside herself and shed the people and things that prevented it.

In the final scene of the movie are the most important lines:

  • Dorothy: “Oh will you help me?” “Can you help me?”
  • Glinda, The Good witch: “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.”
  • Dorothy: “I have?”
  • The now smart Scarecrow: “Then why didn’t you tell her before?”
  • Glinda, The Good Witch: “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn herself.”

So here we are over the rainbow where blue birds fly with Amanda and April. I know that every one of those characters in the movie also are real characters in Amanda and April’s journey on their yellow brick road and are here today or you know them from the past. So I would like to have some fun and have a little contest through the rest of the day and reception. I am putting up a $ 500 reward for the best matches to the OZ characters from Amanda’s and April’s friends and acquaintances or past enemies. We can have one for the best matches and one for the funniest.  Amanda and April will be the judges. I suggest you put it in your SM or blogs as it will be get a lot likes and followers.

So who amongst their friends here today is the:

  • Scarecrow
  • Tin Man
  • Lion
  • Good Witch
  • Wicked Witch
  • Wizard of OZ
  • Gaunt
  • And several others

So here we are at over the rainbow with Amanda and April where blue birds fly and dreams come true. Here is a toast to my Dorothy’s Amanda and April:


Here is to the past for all that you have experienced and learned!

Here is to the Present for all that you share together.

Here is to the future for all that you have to look forward to.


And to make it last:

Whenever you are wrong admit it.

Whenever you are right –Shut Up!


Here is to Amanda and April!


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