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Jewish World Review
March 16, 2007
/ 26 Adar 5767
Whose wedding is it?
Spring is daylight savings time and new blossoms and tax paying and one other very important thing. It's wedding planning season again. But whose wedding is it anyhow? In our age of narcissistic self-awareness, all the books, web sites and glossy mags reinforce the "ME, ME, ME, and only for ME" mentality when it comes to weddings. A wedding is all about the bride, they say, and not about anyone else. "Have the Wedding that you want - not the one 'they' want you to have" the magazine copy screams out. "It's not your mother's wedding" a web site states, "so stop worrying about doing everything her way." The article goes on to say how many brides feel cheated when their mothers are permitted input as to the wedding details.
"If there ever was one, this is the time for you to express your individual taste and style. So what if she'd (the mother) never dream of carrying "fake" flowers in her bridal bouquet? In her generation, fake flowers were plastic of course she wouldn't have used them! This is a new generation, and silk wedding flowers are the rage ..."
Yes, the wedding is the bride's one big chance to be the star of the show and yes, it is most certainly her show, but to what extent? To the total exclusion of all family members? No, it shouldn't be so. A wedding is too important an event. Sure, the wedding is extremely personal for the perspective bride, but it is an enormously important family affair as well. As much as it is the big opportunity for the bride to shine, it is just as important a time for the bride's family to proudly be able to share in her happiness. This is, or should be, a happy life-affirming FAMILY event.
The two important life-changing events which occur in every family are funerals and weddings. These are the two events which traditionally bring families and friends together at one time and in one place. The funeral is a time of family consoling; the wedding is, of course, celebration. When a family member dies we come together for support, remembrance, and comfort. A time of immense sadness and loss, it is right that all family members share this sorrow and help each other through this difficult period. A Wedding is no less of a family gathering which needs to be shared.
But a wedding is the antithesis of the funeral. A time of immense happiness and hope, it is just as important for family members to share this joy with the perspective bride as it is to ban together during a time of grief - if anything it is more important. It gives us a chance to embrace and include our extended family in our happiness. And it gives our extended family the opportunity to participate in a joyous event. Isn't it an awful thing to only see our cousins, uncles, aunts and others during the saddest times of our lives and not for the happiest?
Sadly, the way weddings are being sold to young women today is to stress the "it's not your mother's wedding" concept. The idea is that you shouldn't listen to your mother or grandmother or anybody else in planning your wedding. Do it your own way, invite only who you want to invite, and pick out details that appeal only to you. This attitude appeals to the self absorbed, vain young princesses who have grown up to believe the world revolves around them and now its time to prove it. And they'll prove it by doing their own wedding their own way without any input or suggestions or guidance from parents whatsoever. How utterly selfish.
Just as a girl dreams about becoming a beautiful bride one day, so does a mother dream about sitting down with her daughter and planning the once in a lifetime event with her. It was a traditional way of mother and daughter to bond, like a father going fishing or playing ball with his son. And dad also knows that one day he will walk his little girl down the aisle and give her hand over to her young man, and family members and friends will be there to witness it and take pleasure in it.
The people who have loved that little girl all of her life should be there to take part and to dance at her wedding. Mom and dad want their friends to be there too at this moment of joy in their lives. "My baby has grown, left the nest and is ready to make her own family with the man she loves. I am so glad that our family and friends could gather at this occasion and join us in our happiness." This is what parents want. What they dream about for their daughter's wedding.
There is another new concept in weddings that contributes to making it difficult for family and friends to participate. It is called "destination weddings." Destination weddings are a great way to exclude family members and friends you don't care about or don't particularly want to see, from attending your wedding. It works like this, the bride and groom pick the place of their dreams to get married in, a place far, far away from family, a fantasy place - a place where family members would have to travel long distances at great expense to get to.
The wedding usually will extend two or three days at this fantasy destination and will involve hotel room accommodations, food, plane fare, and carfare all at the "guests" own expense. And don't forget proper clothing to wear at the various "events" that have been planned leading up to and after the actual ceremony. And all this, of course, is on top of the wedding gift.
Ever since Tom Cruise did it, the fantasy destination of choice for today's storybook wedding has been the Tuscany region of Italy, but there is plenty of other far away places with strange sounding names to choose from as well. Nice is nice. The Caribbean is cool. And how about Hawaii? Or better yet, some remote island in the South Pacific. In the old days a girl got married in or near the home of her parents and then went on a honeymoon trip. Today they go on a trip to get married and then go on another trip for their honeymoon. Two trips for the price of one wedding - not bad.
No one is saying that the bride shouldn't have a wonderful, beautiful wedding - a wedding she will cherish all the days of her life, (or at least as long as the marriage lasts) but why can't it happen close to home so that the people who love her can attend without having to take out a second mortgage or divest themselves of their life savings? Just because she is the princess doesn't mean that the rest of us have to be the paupers.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby