Who's a Wedding Really For?

A bride and groom negotiate rocky terrain with their families

"Weddings aren't for the bride and groom," my friend said a month beforeher wedding, exasperated when I suggested that if she didn't likeChicken Kiev, then by gosh, she shouldn't serve it at the reception."They're for the families." I nodded my head as if I understoodcompletely. But I didn't. Not my wedding, I thought to myself. No way.

A few months later I got engaged. Reality dawned.

My now-husband, Aron, and I have an abundance of in-laws. Our parentsdivorced, and each has remarried. His parents have children from theirsecond marriages, and there's a step-grandmother on either side. Thetally of our combined immediate families: 22 people. What they all havein common: Intelligence and sensitivity; New York residence at one timeor another (aside from my grandmother, who's from Alaska); and, ofcourse, they each love us and have our best interests at heart.

What they don't: Personality type (some are easy-going, others proudlyjudgmental; some vivacious storytellers, others "live in the mind");Religious beliefs (Jewish and Christian, believers and atheists);Musical taste (including opera and baroque classical; the RollingStones; Ani DiFranco; and for my new pre-teen brothers-in-law, theMacarena); Financial means (some solidly middle-class, othersupper-class); Political views (some die-hard feminists and gay-rightsproponents, others religious and social conservatives); and, of course,what exactly our "best interests" are, and how to most effectively guideus towards them.

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All of this diversity creates two things: Spicy dinner conversation and, ohyes--total and complete chaos. For me, at least. I don't know how orwhen it happened, but I've fallen prey to the scourge of womeneverywhere: wanting to please. The confluence of the insanity of ourcombined families and my own personal insanity reached a gloriouscrescendo in the planning of my August wedding.

It all started innocently enough: After we announced our wedding plans,an offer was lobbed our way by Aron's father and step-mother to give usan engagement party. "Great," we hastily responded. It was a bash: A lotof family and friends, loud music, excellent food. It was the kind ofparty that Aron's dad and step-mom are great at putting together. It wasnot, however, the kind of party that either my mother or father, orAron's mother's family, is known for. That difference resulted in theGreat Bombardment of '98: Offers from these families started pouring in."Why didn't you tell us you wanted an engagement party?" was thecollective cry. "Now what can we do?"

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Emily Bloch
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