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Hi Pam!

At the risk of sound like a Jane “It Happened to Me” column, I would like to present you with my very own wedding story. Not the stuff that makes it onto TLC, that’s for sure.

In 1999, I was living in Indianapolis with my boyfriend. He proposed to me at the Indianapolis Art Museum on a snowy day in March. Whee! We called all the parents and other interested parties later that evening and decided to decide on a date sometime in 2000, since we were in the middle of preparing to move to New Jersey.

My soon to be mother-in-law approached me early on about wedding plans. I was marrying the youngest of her three boys, and while she had thrown some really expensive bar mitzvahs, she’d never had the opportunity to throw a wedding so would we allow her to help with the planning?

Sure, I said. Like a big dummy. Okay, not that big a dummy. Knowing that she is a freaky controlling type, I made her promise that no matter what MY word would be final, although her input would be considered. Since she was paying for this shindig that I didn’t really even want all that much, I figured I could get my way on the stuff that was important to me (music, cake) and she could go nuts with the rest.

So far, so good. Things were progressing. I drove from New Jersey to Ohio (where I’m from) to pick up my bridesmaids and my mom so we could go dress shopping. I picked out stuff and the bridesmaids picked out stuff (oddly, all three of them picked the same dress even though I told them they could get whatever they wanted). I got it all home and showed Ma-in-law. Didn’t like my dress. WHAT.EVER. I loved it.

That was the first tiny wave in what was otherwise smooth sailing.

Then we found a reception site. Excellent old mansion, surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains blah dee blah. They only had two dates open in August: the 20th and the 27th. Ma-in-law was pulling for the 27th, but that’s my parents’ wedding anniversary and ewwww – how tacky would THAT be? So, the 20th it was.

Wave #2.

We went in to discuss the menu and all hell broke loose. I didn’t really care what the actual food was going to be, since I was going to be in a floofy white dress with champagne in one hand and cake in the other. See, the WHOLE POINT of having a wedding, for me, is CAKE. My fondest memories of being a kid was going to the weddings of aunts and uncles and cousins and chowing down on cake (and later, getting drunk because the open bar didn’t card, like EVER. I miss the 80’s). So, yeah. Cake is important to me.

Ma-in-law was insisting on a cake with raspberry filling and whipped cream icing. I apologize if that’s your absolute favorite, but… barf. Cake and fruit don’t mix, in my book. I wanted four tiers: marble, chocolate, white, and carrot for the very top. With heart-stopping, fat-laden buttercream icing, with big honkin’ flowers and swirlly loops of frosting and if I could get it, a fountain and lights and even a cake Ferris Wheel.

Nothing doing, apparently. So we agreed to disagree and come back to the cake issue at a later time.

Wave #3 started over the freaking chair covers. I didn’t want them, since the chairs the hall was providing were neato: all spray-painted gold with sparkly disco cushions. Seriously, they were like, the Elvis of chairs. So ugly they rocked.

But, since I was still planning to fight for my Cake Vision, I decided to give in on the chair covers. I found out later that my impression of “graceful backing down” was not taken that way. She said she found me “disrespectful.” Whatever.

Guess that proves her point, eh?

SO we left the place with a HUGE deposit paid and the menu worked out and the cake in limbo. Things seemed to be going well.

Two weeks later, or thereabouts, I called to organize the cake. We’d eventually decided to have TWO cakes. One her way and one mine. ROCK ON. Two cakes are always better than one, even if one is all nasty. However, the nice lady on the phone politely informed me that “oh, that event has been cancelled. Mrs. Ma-in-law informed us that the wedding was off so we returned her deposit.” Me, barely keeping it in check: “Oh, thanks so much. I must not have gotten her message. Can you tell me when this was done?” Nice lady on phone: “um, about a week and a half ago.” This is extra-funny when you realize that invitations had gone out by this time.

And… RAGE! Searing, burning, blue-hot rage. I hung up, called my beloved at work and told him he needed to get home ASAP. He thought something was very wrong (he was correct) so he made it home in record time. I told him about the cancellation and he got on the phone with his mother. Lots of things were said. The gist of the conversation was that she couldn’t believe a son of hers would end up with “someone like” me, etc etc etc.

My beloved and I spent the next 9 hours talking about all of this, trying to decide if it was worth it to proceed when his mother (and by extension, his entire family) hated me. Didn’t bother me, since I had no particular love for most of them, but what did bother me was the fact that they deliberately put him in the middle. He had to choose, and he chose me. WOO! Er, I mean, yay!

He then spoke to his mother and told her that, basically, we were getting married by hook or by crook and she was welcome to join in our joy or stay away. At this point, we figured we had the synagogue and rabbi booked, so we might as well have a wedding. We started calling everyone we had ever talked to or worked with in New Jersey and people came through like champs. A restaurant that we really liked agreed to close for the afternoon so we could bring 50 of our closest friends and relatives to lunch. The liquor store gave us such a huge discount on all the booze we decided we needed that I almost married THAT guy instead.

A nearby hotel put us up for the weekend in a room that was bigger than our apartment and gave all our out-of-town relatives huge discounts. ROCK!

Looking back, it wasn’t that bad. I looked excellent, my now-husband was super-cute, we got the giggles during the ceremony, and my mother-in-law wore black to the wedding even after we’d specifically requested that people wear the brightest colors they could bear. We had our luncheon, I had the cake I wanted (with Homer and Marge Simpson Pez Dispensers on top), we got joyfully drunk with our best friends and MY family (his family had their own “after party” to which I was not invited), ordered pizza at 4 AM, and barely made it through brunch the next morning.

Six days later, we trekked out to Ohio for a scary huge reception bash for 350 people (200 of whom are related to me. I have a big family). We ended that party at 11 so we could go to the bars we went to in college. If you get the chance to go to the bar in your dress, do it. I still have free drink tokens, and I never got hit on as much in my whole entire life. I mean, I’m there in a giant white dress with a freaky-long veil and frat boys are coming on to me like I’m naked and wearing a sign that says Open House.

If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t. I’d either not get married at all, or I’d go to Vegas and get hitched there. No fuss, no muss. I’d still get a wedding dress and go to the bar, though. That was awesome.

However, it sounds like the way you’re doing it will be awesome, as well. Karaoke Singers Anonymous will be pleased to have you as their spokeswoman, especially if you end up all Madonna on the floor.

And that’s my story. Four years later, we’re still happily married and his mother is learning to accept the fact that I am part of his life, despite her best efforts. Weddings never go exactly as planned. In fact, I don’t think any wedding I’ve ever been involved in has gone even remotely close to plan. It’s more fun that way. Just remember to breathe and smile, drink clear drinks (vodka & tonic – doesn’t stain!) to avoid the Courtney Love look, and have a great time.

Wishing you and stee much love and happiness always,
Rachel
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