You Probably Need a Will, So Here's How to Have That Potentially Awkward Conversation with Your Family
Remember, if you die without a will, the state will determine who inherits
I've spent the better part of the last week doing one of four things, sometimes more than one at the same time: crying, screaming, panicking or frantically Pinteresting. What could bring out these four states of being? Planning my wedding.
Before you think I'm ungrateful either to my fiancée who is my emotional rock, or to my parents who are paying for my fabulous shindig, let me say I am in a sense grateful for these colossal first world problems. My wedding day is going to be the happiest day of my life, but preparing for it has been anything but.
When I first got engaged, a friend of mine wrote me a series of emails explaining how terrible planning her wedding was. This might sound naive, but isn’t planning your wedding supposed to be fun? I found these emails slightly bizarre, but I knew they came from a good place. Now I understand why she tipped me off. Getting married isn’t about something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. It’s about something emotional, something expensive, something no one can agree upon and feeling blue about it.
So, now it’s my turn to pay it forward to any future brides-to-be. I am not saying you will encounter all of the same issues I have. I hope you don’t. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. And yes, if I could do it all over again, I would have hired a wedding planner from the start, but I was too afraid to ask my parents for one.
When planning a wedding, before you do anything else, you have to find a venue. My fiancée’s ideal wedding was a destination wedding. I immediately quashed the idea because I have a large family and most people would probably say “I don’t” to flying somewhere like the Caribbean. Also, every time I’ve seen someone plan a destination wedding (and by every time, I mean the two episodes I’ve seen of Say Yes To The Dress: The Big Day), the brides don’t really have control over anything. It’s hard to plan every little detail if you aren’t local.
Both my fiancée and I grew up in a large city, so naturally it was the first place we started looking. Our search was highly unsuccessful. To make to make a long story short, I ran from the last venue we looked at screaming. In all fairness, I saw a mouse. Not a good sign.
However, when we went to South Carolina to visit his parents shortly after we were engaged, we found what we believed to be the perfect venue for our wedding. So, we agreed upon a destination(ish) wedding.
Several months after reserving our date, my mother flew down to visit the coordinator at our venue. It was in person that they informed her they would not be able to accommodate 150 people for our ceremony. I still can’t understand why or how this happened. When my fiancée and I met originally met with the venue, it looked tight, but doable. They said it wouldn’t be a problem. I cannot understand why they didn’t tell us the truth from the beginning.
I’ve also kicked myself for not being more responsible. I should have arranged the chairs while we were there, but like many brides-to-be, I was completely wrapped up in the moment. Why would I have any reason to believe they were giving me the wrong information?
After my mother called to inform me of this snafu, I cried and screamed and acted like the bridezilla from hell. I was tempted to email the venue coordinator and tell her she ruined my wedding. I briefly considered using a service called Ship Your Enemies Glitter. However, I didn’t want to burn my bridges or upset my future in-laws. After all, they live in a small town and word gets around fast. (That’s also why I had to publish this anonymously.)
To keep things as we had planned, we could have cut down the guest list. After the venue, the guest list is a huge source of drama for most people. It doesn’t matter if you are inviting 100 or 300 people, unless you are planning a Duggar-style wedding with 1,500 guests, I can assure you feelings will be hurt and someone will be left out and everyone will talk behind each others’ backs.
There’s also an unwritten rule that has been an endless source of tension for me: if you invite some members of a group, like first cousins, you must invite all of them. I have one cousin who I couldn’t pick from a police line up because I haven’t seen him since I was in diapers. Yet all of a sudden, last year, he allegedly attended my nephew’s bar mitzvah. I didn’t see him there and no one mentioned he was there… until now. My parents insist I invite this cousin because it would be offensive to my aunt if I don’t. Maybe my aunt should be offended her son has attended exactly one family event in 25 years.
Because cutting the guest list wasn’t an option, we had two choices, either move our wedding someplace else, or have the ceremony at a Jewish Synagogue. I really wanted to change venues and I went back and forth for an entire week thinking about what I should do. When I finally found what I felt was the perfect alternative, which would have made everyone happy, my mother flipped out because I changed my mind for the umpteenth time yet again.
We finally agreed to have the ceremony at a synagogue a few minutes from our venue. I grew up with a religious father, celebrated Jewish holidays and had a bat mitzvah, but I’ve never felt spiritually connected or even remotely comfortable during any sort of religious service. It bothers me that I will be celebrating the most important day of my life in a place I don’t particularly like. But the truth is that our physical location is pretty inconsequential and the ceremony is 30 minutes tops. We will write our own vows and do our best to make the ceremony our own.
Another reason why I hate wedding planning is that my family and I can’t agree on a menu. I really care about the food probably because I’ve watched too many episodes of Four Weddings. On the other hand, my fiancée couldn’t care less about the menu. He thinks wedding food is never good because it’s prepared for a large number of people. In some sense, he’s right. I know the food at my wedding won’t be the best meal my guests have ever had, but I hope at the very least, they enjoy it.
The problem is my parents insist on serving steak. Serving steak to a large number of people just doesn’t work because everyone likes their steak cooked differently. So unless the chef can personally guarantee everyone can have steak cooked to his or her preference, the odds are against most people enjoying this meal. And before you think I’m ignoring my vegetarian guests, of course there will be a vegetation option and a fish option (probably the least risky fish, salmon). Instead of steak, I want to serve duck because that’s what I want to eat on my wedding night. I’ve been told no one actually eats at their own wedding, but I can always make time for duck. Luckily, we’ve put a pause on menu planning for now, but Steakgate still remains unresolved.
Unfortunately, the sequel to Steakgate is Cakegate. Let me preface this by saying I love cake. Although we are months away from ordering the cake, I mentioned to my father in passing that I wanted the cake to be butter cream and not fondant or whipped cream. My father however, insists we have whipped cream because buttercream is not kosher. This would make sense if we were having a kosher wedding. In fact, we are serving appetizers that are particularly NOT kosher, like shrimp. Ironically, I asked for bacon-wrapped dates and it was vetoed. I can’t begin to understand this logic of why we can’t have a butter cream cake. When I questioned my father he told me since he was paying for the cake, he can order what he likes.
This makes me sad on so many levels. It’s my day. Can’t I have my frosting preference met?
As I was writing the conclusion to this essay, I received an email from my photographer telling us she is unable to shoot our wedding because she’s pregnant. I can’t be angry with someone for that. I’m also pretty sure this is isn’t the final snafu.
Despite all of the drama, I’m really looking forward to my wedding. If you’re wondering where my fiancée has been in all of this, he’s been nothing but supportive. He’s let me delegate things to him, listen to me cry and approved things just to make me happy. He even dealt with my parents when it just wasn’t in me. These challenges have actually made our relationship stronger.
So, we might end up serving well-done steak, eating whipped cream cake and I might think “oy vey” as I walk down the aisle, but hating the planning process has made me realize the most important element of my wedding is absolutely perfect. And no one can cancel, change or overcook that.