“Who’s planning your wedding?”
I was sitting in synagogue last week and one of the women asked me that. We had just been talking about the wedding of my future sister-in-law who is getting married this weekend.
She and her fiance planned their wedding down to the tiniest personal detail — which I think is the M.O. of many brides nowadays.
A bride named Missy Ingersoll wrote to tell me about her own small wedding. She and her fianc are expecting 60 people — and are looking forward to starting their married lives debt-free. What could be better than that?
Missy also talked about what I consider a very key aspect of wedding planning: Adjusting expectations. She said she had to learn to separate her friends’ expectations from her own.
For me, it has been about separating my expectations from my parents’. My parents attend at least one wedding every weekend from May to October, and there is a communal expectation that they return the favor when the time comes. And it has indeed.
So, to revise, I have been juggling my expectations, the expectations of my parents and the expectations of my parents’ friends. Of the community, if you will.
I am not planning my wedding alone. I know that. I’ve been struggling to have a say.
My mother is a party planner extraordinaire — you hear that, Mom? She’s planned four bat mitzvahs, a 400-person wedding for my sister Hannah and numerous 400-person fundraising events for my sisters’ high school. I, on the other hand, have thrown house parties.
So, in a lot of ways, I have to defer to her. She and my father are also paying for the wedding, so I have to defer to that too. Like everything else, it’s a tradeoff. I get a big, white wedding — and way more cooks in my poor-metaphor kitchen.
That being said, I do have ideas about how I want my wedding to go. Most of my ideas are abstract: I want our wedding to feel intimate, low-key. I had to fight for a backyard reception that will be part barbeque, part garden party — I call it barbeque chic.
Now this was very counter-community because most people from the synagogue get married in ballrooms or museums — so the backyard was a major win. A family friend recently said she thought that it’s very cool, having gotten married at the Franklin Institute herself, an idea she divulged was her mother’s and not her own.
But we all have ideas, don’t we, about how we’d like things to go . . . and then there’s the way they actually go. I imagined a small wedding in a garden, and I had to let that go. I had to learn, as one blogger put it, that it’s not YOUR wedding, it’s OUR wedding. And my parents care about my wedding. A lot. It’s their chance to show me off having put so much effort into raising me right. I’ve accepted that.
So I count my wins — photographer of my choice! — and make concessions, like the 400-person guest list and the band. Then I enjoy the lulls between battles and try to remember it’s just one day.
So back to that question: “Who’s planning your wedding?” One of the women sitting around the table at synagogue, a grandmother many times over, said her mother planned *everything.* She picked her dress, and that was it.
So, again, I count my wins and I am thankful for them.
What are your top priorities? What have you held on to? And what is just easier to let go?
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