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Jewish Journal

Balancing family and friend requests not an easy task

by Dana Greene

February 7, 2008 | 7:00 pm

Getting married is a balancing act. I never quite understood this until my guy proposed.

What's the big deal in wedding planning? I always thought. You set a date, pick a place, settle on a band, choose a few of your favorite flowers and do a dinner and cake tasting. What's difficult about that?

It's not difficult. In fact, that part's been rather fun. However, the part that I am complaining about is the negotiations between family and friends. Trying to please everyone is proving impossible.

Unlike most brides-to-be, I never really thought about getting married. Honestly, I thought I'd either never find the right guy, or I'd pull a Gloria Steinem and get married later in life. That said, I once thought if I ever found myself in a position to say, "I do," then maybe we'd elope or have a destination wedding and/or maybe, just maybe, invite a few of our family and friends.

Well, my boyfriend-turned-fiancÃ(c) had other plans. He'd always imagined a big wedding. He comes from a sizable family. And my father, who'd been placed in an unusual role these last few years as my therapist -- allowing me the opportunity to vent after and sometimes even during the worst dates imaginable -- decided he wanted a celebratory send-off, although, this could be more for him than for me. Bottom line, we're a very close father-daughter team. And I feel that this was very much my father's dream wedding.

Weddings are supposed to be about the bride and groom right? But I want my parents, his parents, his siblings, my relatives and our friends on board and excited about sharing our special day. We were trying to do all that, but we had our tangles and snags along the way.

It wasn't intended to be a black-and-white wedding, but because I asked my attendants to pick their own black gowns, my future mother-in-law figured it was a black-and-white wedding. I happen to like black and want to be a low-maintenance bride by not requiring my girlfriends to spend extra money on silly, colored dresses they'll never wear in public ever again. Black seemed the easiest way to go.

My soon-to-be nieces -- the two flower girls -- would look good in black velvet, appropriate material for a winter wedding, I thought. My sisters-to-be couldn't agree on the right style, a problem I had never considered until they started to disagree. What do I know about choosing a flower girl's dress?

To be sure, it's a difficult task finding black velvet in the middle of July. I suggested they hold off the search until fall, but they still were trying to outdo each other's suggestion, and I was caught in the middle of the building fury.

When it came to choosing flowers, we interviewed eight florists and still had yet to sign a contract. My father arranged the initial meeting with a woman who will remain anonymous. The four of us (mom included) sat down, and right away, this woman announced she was the most expensive florist in town.

Well, thank goodness it wasn't a meeting scheduled by me. My father's eyes glossed over when he heard her regular floral budget. Basically, it was the GNP of a small country. Next!

Then a few girlfriends asked if they could bring a guest -- other girlfriends or family members. According to wedding etiquette, guests are supposed to be friends of either the bride or groom. Of course, we'd include a long-term boyfriend, girlfriend and engaged couple, but did I have to invite my bridesmaid's sister or my friend's long-ago touring companion? The e-mail exchange was frantic.

Normally, couples choose bands based on either watching a live performance, friends' suggestions or asking for DVDs of past weddings. In our case, both my guy and I heard a band play the year before and thought the group was perfect for our parent's generation. My parents were the ones paying for the wedding, so they would need to be happy with the choice. This band also played some modern tunes.

We all set out on a Saturday night to hear the band play, and they were awful. I mean the worst sound ever. How could we not have noticed that? I guess vodka martinis make a difference.

Another band sounded great, but the leader lacked emcee skills and seemed to take 10-minute breaks between each set. Another Saturday night wasted.

My in-laws are wonderful, kind people. I lucked out there. And they offered to host the rehearsal dinner. But where?

Our idea was to choose a restaurant that reflects our personalities -- maybe an ocean view or a view of the marina since we love the beach, sailing and scuba diving. But his parents are more traditional and chose an inland site.

In the scheme of things, it wasn't so bad. They offered to host because they agreed with our union, and they like my family. It is important that everyone is happy, healthy and gets along with each other, right?

It would have been nice to have more input on the location venue, but oh well. What's most important is that I found a good, caring, smart and sexy MOT (member of the Jewish tribe) with whom I'll share my life. That and a dream honeymoon.

Dana Greene is a syndicated columnist in San Diego who writes about couples issues. She can be contacted at danagreene1@yahoo.com.

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