Why Our Wedding Was a Missed Opportunity
June always makes me think of weddings, and that reminds me of my own wedding, the drama surrounding it, and why it was a missed opportunity.My husband-to-be, Steve, and I wanted to be married by a judge at a small wedding that would include only close friends and family. Our parents were horrified. They had always dreamed of a big Jewish wedding with all the traditional trappings, presided over by a rabbi and followed by a lavish party where they’d celebrate with hundreds of their family members, friends, and important business associates.After much aggressive lobbying by our two mothers, Steve and I finally succumbed. But we laid down three conditions, and I made my mother swear to abide by them.First, she would handle all the arrangements — Steve and I just wanted to show up for the event. Second, we’d have only candid photographs, not posed pictures. Third, if any problems came up, she would take care of them and not involve me. After hearing horror stories from my friends, I wanted to avoid becoming embroiled in any disputes between our parents about wedding arrangements.Four days before the wedding, my Mom called me in a panic. She wailed, “The caterer has quit.” Here’s what had happened. Steve’s father, a wine and whiskey importer, was supplying all the alcohol for our wedding. He planned to have a different wine for each of the six dinner courses, and he wanted each wine to be served in its own special, “proper” glass. The problem was that the caterer had only five kinds of glasses, and my father-in-law-to-be was so truculent and overbearing in his insistence on six different glasses that the caterer was so offended, he quit.Reminding my mother of her promise to keep me out of any conflicts, I told her, “It’s your problem.” I don’t know how she did it, but in an act of what must have been masterful diplomacy, she got my father-in-law to relent and the caterer to agree to handle the wedding on one condition: the caterer would leave and the assistant caterer would take over the minute Steve’s father stepped into the building where the wedding was held. And, in fact, leave he did.Looking back, I’m struck by how little Steve and I wanted to be involved in planning our wedding. We thought of it as an event more for our parents than for ourselves. In contrast, most young couples today own every aspect of their weddings. They design their own invitations, ceremonies, vows, menus, and music. In fact, do-it-yourself weddings are the rage among Millenials, couples born between 1979 and 2000.If I had it to do again, I’d do it the millennial way. By leaving it to our parents, Steve and I missed the first opportunity we had to work as partners on a major endeavor. Through planning our wedding, we could have learned early on how to weigh options and make decisions (especially financial decisions) together, how to deal with our in-laws, how to handle conflict, how to see things from each other’s point of view, how to compromise and find common ground, and how to support each other in managing the emotional triggers that planning a wedding inevitably sets off. And we could have had an event that reflected our own special style, personalities, and values.In 2016, we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary. I’d like for us to mark the occasion by recommitting to each other, this time planning the ceremony and writing the vows ourselves.