Or wedding planning, that is.
In my next memoir post, I’m still in the fairy tale stage of my wedding. “Joe” and I have just reunited after my six months in China, and we feel hopeful. I remember thinking then that anything was possible: I could have the exact venue I wanted, the perfect dress, my favorite music.
That didn’t last long. You’ll read in upcoming posts how wedding planning quickly became about the most un-fun experience possible. Of course I couldn’t have the wedding in New Jersey, my home state – did I realize how tough that would be for my future mother-in-law to travel? A Chinese banquet was out of the question. “We’d have to do Korean stuff too,” Joe said, if we were to have Chinese traditions. In the end, we found a place in Westchester we both loved, but then his parents backed out of paying their half.
“Pay for it yourselves,” his father had barked. “Other kids do.”
I understood their financial difficulties, but they could have told us before we signed the contract.
I actually would have preferred to pay for everything myself. Something small that we could afford on our own so that we wouldn’t be beholden to anyone. But something small wasn’t enough for Joe. He had to show his parents’ friends that I was as worthy as a Korean girl. He had to show that although I was Chinese, I was still okay.
His parents made suggestions of places that were more affordable, such as a Korean banquet hall they often frequented. I shook my head. If I couldn’t have a Chinese banquet, they certainly weren’t going to get something 100% Korean.
The conflicts didn’t end there. Joe’s mother wanted me to wear her wedding veil while my mother flipped. “Why do you want to wear that old thing?” she asked. My mother flipped about a lot of things: for instance, did we seriously want to serve pate as an appetizer?
“It’s what we like,” I told her.
“What you like?!” she yelled. We were in the parking lot at Macy’s. “It’s not about what you like. What about your guests? You think anyone will want to eat that?”
I did what any bride-to-be being pushed around by her mother, her fiance, and her fiance’s parents would do: I sobbed like a maniac and ran from the car into the store. This actually surprised my mother, who was rarely surprised by anything. By the time she caught up to, she was considerably calmer.
“Pate is just not something a lot of people like,” she said. “What about a seafood?”
I’d have to freak out more often, I told myself.
Which I did. Joe’s parents pushed like crazy about the engagement party (my parents’ responsibility), but then dragged their feet about the rehearsal dinner. My mother kept asking about it, so I tentatively approached Joe.
“What about the rehearsal dinner?” I said. “My mother is expecting – ”
“She’s expecting something?” he snapped. “She’s always going around expecting things.”
“One time!” I screamed, throwing down a pile of bridal magazines. “My mother has asked your parents for this one thing! Your parents have asked us for a million things!”
“I don’t tell you half the things they ask for,” he mumbled, as though doing me a favor.
It’s easy to say now: I should have known.
Wedding planning often brings out the worst in people. I mean, have you seen Bridezillas? Not that every experience is bad. If people are in agreement about what they want and are laid back about the whole thing, I’m sure it could be fine. Not for me though.
Although I don’t want to get married again, sometimes I still fantasize about the wedding that would be 100% mine. Not too many people, like a Chinese banquet but much more low key, somewhere pretty and close to nature.
And all the goddamned pate I want.