When I got married last year, planning for the wedding was a delight. My fiance and I were in near total agreement about almost every detail of the wedding. We agreed on the time, the place, the size, the honeymoon, the dress and the suit, and the structure of the ceremony. All of this went smoothly between us despite the fact that I am Jewish and he is not.

The problem came after we announced to my Mother that we were getting married. In the months that followed, I learned some valuable lessons that I pass along to you in hopes that it will help you to avoid some of the difficulties that we experienced.

I suppose that mothers probably start planning their daughter’s wedding as soon as they are born. The problem is that those plans seem to be held inside until the moment an engagement is announced.

Likewise, most women have thought about their wedding day since early in their childhood. As they grow up, and observe more, they develop their own ideas about what they want when that magical day arrives.

The stage is thus set for a potential explosion when these two sets of expectations that develop in parallel but largely unknown to each other meet for the first time. One always wanted large, while the other small. One always wanted the beach, while the other preferred a cathedral. You can imagine the other variations.

The guiding principle that helped me keep my head on straight during the entire process was the fact that this was MY wedding. Although compromises were struck and modifications were made, I always found this principle helpful. An illustration of this was a controversy that arose over the ceremony. I wanted the Justice of the Peace to make mention of family who had passed on. My Mother objected. I tried to reason with her and considered her point of view, but ultimately I decided to go with it as it was so important to me and after all, it was MY wedding. The mention was brief and tasteful.

The second principle is that money talks. Whoever gets the bill will ultimately have the last word on any expenses. The only way you will have complete control over your wedding is if you and your fiance pay for the whole thing. In light of this, it is a good idea to establish early on who is going to pay for what. Thus, if you want to minimize any difficulty, try to arrange things so that you will pay for those elements of the wedding that might be controversial. We had a major dispute over flowers. We wanted the florist to put flowers on the chandeliers in the reception room because they looked too bleak and austere without that decoration. My Mother objected and felt that it was “overkill”. The problem was resolved when we agreed to pay for the chandelier decoration. In retrospect, it was a good solution and we are glad to have had the additional decoration. The moment that we agreed to pay for the chandeliers, the controversy vanished!

The third principle is be willing to be firm on the important details and flexible on the minor ones. In the process of planning, we discovered some impracticalities in our initial ideas and had to make changes. For example, we expected to have Rabbi perform the wedding because I am Jewish. However, because my husband is not Jewish, and did not plan to convert, we discovered that no Rabbi would perform the ceremony except for a handful who would do so for a very large fee. The only alternative which we ultimately chose was to get a Justice of the Peace to perform the ceremony. As we look back on it now, it was a perfect solution.

In a meeting with the caterer, we ran into an unexpected dispute over an appetizer. My Mother expressed a strong objection to clam chowder which the groom loved and wanted. It could have been a problem, but it wasn’t because we recognized the principle of flexibility on minor details. We chose another appetizer and eliminated the clam chowder completely. The idea being to remain firm on the important details and be flexible on the less important ones.

Weddings are marvelous events. The magic of the event will tend to supercede any difficulty. I wish you a beautiful wedding.

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