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new featureAn Out of Country Experience-Part 15
(Please check the archives if you've missed previous installments)

Rebecca L. Morgan
The Power of Commitment
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Barfly Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien
The Land of the Behemoth
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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

"The Wonder of Weddings"

I've learned an awful lot about weddings in the past few months. It's been a crash course. I guess it's about time, considering that my son is going to be married on August 3rd, but I obviously missed "Weddings 101" somewhere along the line, despite my years of education and more than half century of life experience.

For one thing, I learned that weddings are one of the few remaining booming businesses. While the rest of the economy seems, at least to most of the folks I know, to be in the toilet, the wedding industry is thriving. And "real" weddings, with elegant rehearsal dinners (not the ones at the local Italian restaurant), wedding planners, elaborate and expensive receptions, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and online gift registries are all the rage. My son, who is thirty-four, has probably been to twenty such weddings; he's been a groomsman in at least half of them.(Socio-economic comment #1: guys who belong to a fraternity, and maintain friendships with their "brothers," especially those from the East Coast, are more likely to attend "real" weddings). One can hardly imagine how many of these weddings his future bride's family has attended. (Socio-economic comment #2: Couples who remain married to the same person, and whose roots run deep in their community, especially on the East Coast, are more likely to have friends who throw "real" weddings.)

I've been to maybe ten weddings in my entire life.(Socio-economic comment #3: Divorced people, and people who move away from their roots, are less likely to have friends who throw "real" weddings.) And I've never been a bridesmaid. Ever. I was the matron-of-honor at only one wedding, and that was for my mother's second marriage. The only wedding I ever planned was my own, also the second time around. It was a romantic, glorious, love-drenched Malibu wedding, but it wasn't one of "those" weddings. The kind my son is about to have. Clearly, I know very little about "real" weddings.

How, you might ask, could that be? I think it mostly comes down to timing. I was married very young and very matter-of-factly in the 60s. No fancy wedding; we took the money. And because we moved around a lot, and had our children quickly, I lost touch with the single girlfriends of my youth, and bonded, instead, with other young married women with kids. Needless to say, I had missed their weddings. Years later, when my kids were older and I was working full-time, the women who became my friends had already had their weddings, and often their divorces, way before we ever met. The few who did get married during that time always did something unconventional, like "get hitched" in Vegas, or fly off to Europe. Now, none of my current friends is old enough to have a child ready for marriage; the average age of their children is five. So, although I've been to a few "hippie" weddings, a Buddhist wedding, an orthodox Jewish wedding, a wedding held in someone's living room, and a pot-luck bring-your-own casserole wedding, my "real" wedding experience is decidedly limited.

Which makes it fortunate that I'm only the mother-of-the-groom for my first time in the big leagues. Still, I was filled with misconceptions. For instance, I thought that all I had to do was show up! And since showing up in this case means my husband and I flying 3000 miles to Boston, Massachusetts, then renting a car to drive to Plymouth, and spending three nights in a hotel, I was just getting my head around what that entailed, expense-wise, plus abandoning our dogs for four days and our business for two. Naturally, in the end, none of that matters, not compared to the joy I feel for my son, and the thrill I will experience watching him get married to the woman he loves. So then, our part was handled. We would show up, with bells on.

But, that was before I learned about wedding protocol. Wedding protocol, apparently, is a time-honored list of acceptable rules and traditions that dictates who does what, and how each thing is done, at "real" weddings. My knowledge of wedding protocol was nil. My induction into that protocol has been a baptism by fire.

First and foremost, of course, is that the groom's parents do not merely show up. They have responsibilities. Primarily, they are responsible for hosting the rehearsal dinner. In fact, before I fully realized that this was a non-negotiable part of wedding protocol, I made the mistake of e-mailing my son's soon to be mother-in-law and reassuring her that with everything else she had to worry about, she shouldn't worry about the rehearsal dinner because it was totally "on us." Apparently, that was a huge "DUH," comparable to suggesting that perhaps the bride should wear white and have her father accompany her down the aisle. Like I said, baptism by fire.

At any rate, this rehearsal dinner involves a full bar, appetizers, and prime rib dinners for sixty guests. I imagine that came as quite a shock to my ex-husband, although thankfully, at least he can afford the tab. In an attempt to make some contribution, I offered to help coordinate the event. Unfortunately, I was at least six months late on that one. My son's fiancé (who we lovingly refer to as Martha Stewart-minus the mean streak and the scandal-of course) had already done all the coordinating, down to the color scheme, menu, table settings, candles, flowers, place cards...the works. So, all that remains for me is to make sure that her exquisite vision is realized: that what she expects to see when she enters that room is indeed what she does see. That is a task I will faithfully execute on the day of the dinner. She also designed and produced the rehearsal dinner invitations, so there wasn't much left for me there either. I did suggest that she use my phone number for the RSVPs; I figured I could at least provide an accurate head count.

But I do have one major responsibility, one I have poured my heart into. In the process, I have discovered that there are actually two wedding protocols: the universal one and the one that is created by a particular family. In my son's fiancé's family (and perhaps in thousands of other families as well, since I'm obviously not an expert on these things) the mother of the groom produces the rehearsal dinner video. And in this case, since she had two sons who got married prior to this wedding, she has produced two videos, each portraying the lives of the bride and groom-through the use of family photos and accompanied by sentimental music-from infancy to their eventual courtship and romance. Now that was a task right up my alley. No wedding protocol involved there. Just produce a video, something I've actually done before, something creative, fun, a chance to make a personal contribution! I plunged in with glee.

Now, after one hundred hours of scanning, cropping, downloading, storyboarding, after editing 270 photos and thirteen songs, after a couple of miscommunications and protocol bunglings on my part, after several admonitions from my son containing phrases like "I hope you're not using........" and "Make sure you don't show" as well as a few "can we still get these pictures in" from assorted people after the rough cut, I'm not so sure. I love my video, but who knows what rules I may have broken. It certainly doesn't look like the previous two videos. Doesn't sound like them either. Yes, it travels from babyhood to adulthood, culminating in courtship and love, but it does it to a rock and roll beat. Oh sure, it's soft rock, in deference to my intended audience, but as someone once said, "it's still rock and roll to me."

Of course the video is, in the end, only that. A video. Personally, I think it's also a love story, but that's my vision. Others may notice that it's twice as long as the previous videos, or point to a photo I should have left out, or a credit I forgot. I guess what I'm really wondering is where wedding protocol ends and a contribution that comes straight from the heart begins. And if they can meet somewhere peaceably in the middle.

I'll let you know.

Send me your opinions at Lynn@netlistings.com

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