What's Wrong With A Church Wedding?
Nothing, Unless You're Afraid to Tell Your Jewish Father You're Having One
BY: Lauren F. Winner
David spent yesterday afternoon shopping for my engagement ring, I'm sure of it. (Either that or he's having an affair.) During his four-day visit from his home in the Ozarks to mine in New York City, he has been devoted and attentive, blowing off all his friends and relatives in Manhattan to help me clean my apartment, assemble my Stairmaster, and generally be a doting beau-- until yesterday, when he mysteriously disappeared. He had an 11 o'clock meeting with an agent, but he didn't return till shortly after six, with nothing but a vague reference to "errands on the East Side" to explain his afternoon activities. This morning, he vanished to call his brother Jon--from a pay phone. He wanted privacy, he said, more privacy than my den could afford. Now he's gone again. Definitely shopping for diamonds. I'm certain.
Mind you, we're not engaged yet, but that hasn't stopped us from talking our hypothetical wedding into the ground. When I was in college, I marveled at my friends' pre-engagement planning. Karen and Tim knew the date on which he was going to propose to her (September 6, her birthday), the date of the wedding (July 18), where the wedding would be, what color the bridesmaids would wear, and who was going to cater the affair--all months before he actually popped the question. For all I know, they rehearsed the proposal. "We're having a very elaborate wedding," Karen explained. "We have to plan ahead." Ridiculous, I thought. If you've nailed down the date that you'll get engaged--if you know where he's going to take you to dinner, how he'll phrase the question, and what your response will be--then, for all intents and purposes, you're engaged. Just put the ring on her finger and formally announce it already.
Now I find myself guilty of the something similar--though I like to protest that we haven't nailed down any dates, we're not quite as neurotic, nor quite as sure as Tim and Karen. And I like to think I have a better excuse than Karen. David and I aren't having all these pre-engagement wedding conversations because we're obsessed with flower arrangements and appetizers. We're having them because when I think about picking up the phone to tell my family we're getting married, I freeze.
You see, David and I are both pretty new Christians. He was raised by devout atheists, I was raised Jewish, and the wedding we envision is not anything like what any of our seven parents (four blood parents and three steps, with eight weddings among them) would ever imagine.
My father, for his part, has married not one, but two Protestant women. So it's no surprise that when I told him that I'd been baptized, he didn't rush to sit shiva or cuw me out of his will. But he did write me a letter declaring that my conversion had caused him "great pain." (He also wrote that his life "would be rendered meaningless," but he later retracted this, sort of, admitting that it was hyperbole.