on wedding planning

Just a word of assurance: this isn’t going to turn into a wedding blog. But, anyone who has planned such an event knows that it becomes quite a consuming task, so its showing up in my reflection today.

Wedding planning is pretty fun most of the time. However, we are facing some unique challenges that sometimes make me want to just elope.

I think they are things that any intercultural couple probably has to deal with, not just in planning a wedding, but also in everyday life together, like…

The distance. He is over there. I am here. We are not together.

This might be some brides’ dreams? One wedding vendor told me I was lucky; I could just get him out of my hair for a few months and plan the wedding on my own!

I smiled politely and answered, “I’d actually like him here to do it with me.”

He is involved in the decisions we make about our wedding, but because everything is happening here, I am doing most of the grunt work on my own.

Or I recruit a wonderful friend to come do the fun things with me like tasting catering. Imagine if I’d had to do this all alone!

The logistics. We have some unusual details to work out.

Which elements of the ceremony should be bilingual? How are we going to make sure everyone has fun when communication might be an issue? Where are the Germans going to stay? Should we plan a whole week’s agenda to entertain them? How can we make this more affordable for our friends and family? In which country should we get our wedding license? How does this affect immigration issues?

The negotiation. We both come to this with different ideas about what a wedding looks like (and so do our families and friends), so we are really getting to practice the art of compromise.

The American expectation of an over-the-top wedding, the social media-syndrome that feeds these expectations, and the ever-growing wedding industry that has cashed in on it all… are absurd. But there’s something about looking at everyone’s beautiful Facebook albums and Pinterest boards that makes me want it all too!

And my dear fiance has had a hard time with how (wie?!) “x” could possibly be that expensive and why (warum?!) we need to uphold “y & z” traditions. Weddings are generally low-key in Germany.

Beyond the surface-level of what the wedding should look like and how much it should cost, there are also some deeper things to negotiate about the wedding. I can’t imagine a wedding without vows. Vows aren’t a part of the German liturgy though. They say “I do” – but there’s nothing like the repeated, “I promise to … for rich or for poor … etc.” This is a point of negotiation that has led to questions like, what is it that makes you married? and what is the nature of the sacrament? what do the people do and what does God do in a wedding ceremony? These aren’t just intercultural issues, but questions that people from different denominational backgrounds might also face (especially if they are both theologians!)

This challenge actually leads to some really positive conversations. We both get to examine our traditions and expectations and ask ourselves, “is this really important for both of us?” and “can we both find meaning in this?” If the answer is no to both of these questions, then we’re not keeping tradition for tradition’s sake. Freedom!

The realization. In all of this, I am learning again and again that “our way” isn’t the “only way.” I don’t think I’ll ever stop brushing up against this. Sometimes its still shocking; sometimes its so refreshing… but the realization is always there.

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