By: Revanche

Wedding Planning: conflict resolution

September 20, 2013

I’m maintaining a fourteen-tab spreadsheet since I’ve taken over the bulk of the planning; this way, I can keep good records of everything I’ve worked on and easily refer PiC to whatever tab to either make a decision or record his part of the work. It’s unfathomable that this level of spreadsheeting doesn’t solve all problems, I think it should, but it’s a start.

It’s a huge weight off my mind that the invitations have mostly gone out since we skipped any Save the Dates. That wasn’t without its fights of course. Dad insisted that since we agreed to invite some family, after several hours of tense and cranky discussion, the invitations had to be bilingual. So I had to start all over again, redesigning the whole thing AND figuring out how to write bilingually. Awesome. Sank another ten hours into that project but they’re done and while they’re not amazing, I’m proud of them. I’m not looking forward to hearing what he has to say about them, though, which is why I still haven’t sent him his batch to send out for the family. Strategy: Avoidance. Not my usual style but 5% avoidance + 95% directness is about good enough.

I’ve had offers of help from a small group of people and in a complete about-face, I’m accepting them. I’m sure it’ll make a big difference as we get closer.  It’s not meant to be a huge stressy bonanza but it is stressful making all the arrangements and trying to make sure that it’s set up in a way that our guests will enjoy and have fun with. If nothing else: so much work.

As much as I know my own mind and just want this to be a simple and fun thing, there are aspects of cultural tradition that I want to include and there are others that my dad wants us to include and navigating that negotiation gives me heartburn. It seems obvious to other people that if I’m paying, I decide, but I defy any and all of y’all to be the first one to break with more than 100 years of tradition and not have to take anything your family wants into account.

In my family, you do exactly what everyone else has done, period. The only differences are trivial, like how much make up you cake on .. wait, no, that’s not true… oh yes, the quality of your restaurant’s food when you do a Chinese banquet. Because you always do it banquet style. And have basically the same menus. I remember knowing precisely what foods I would eat and in what order every time we went to a wedding when I was a kid, only one or two dishes of 8 ever varied.

So this is culture shock for both of us: the idea of compromising at all is utterly foreign to my family, while having to accommodate more than just a few parts that I care about means a 3 hour conversation for each thing and that irritates me to no end. We’re all trying but in the meantime we’re getting on each other’s nerves.

I do want to include aspects of my culture that are important but I wish my dad could be more supportive and willing to accept that this isn’t, in fact, about him. After 14 years, it can’t possibly still be a secret that I’ve been carrying the family by myself, I deserve to be treated as the adult I am, and not a showpiece.

This of course reminds me of the chauvinist language we use. Brides “take” (accept) husbands; parents “marry off” their daughters and “marry in” daughters in law; husbands actually “take” (for themselves) wives. It denies the daughter and the wife  agency and is hugely annoying when that’s the crux of the arguments: no one will think you’re making a choice for your life, your parents are giving you away, so you have to do it my way because it’s about me.

Sigh.  No, not exactly, but ….

Anyhow, one hilarious side effect of getting things done and sent, though: the responses and reactions. All the early responses have been texted RSVPs and one friend completely jumped feet first into the registry.

She called saying she’d found a better deal for a full set of things rather than the separate pieces that we registered for and could we please confirm that they were the same? If so, couldn’t she get the set instead?

My answer: well, yes they’re the same so that’d be fine but no, you can’t actually get them because you have already been too generous.

Her answer: LET ME DO WHAT I WANT. LET ME HAVE MY WAY.

I had to laugh at her; it was absurd that she was fake-tantruming to get her way on buying us gifts but I had to cave. Plus Twitter friends told me to hush and let her buy whatever she wants. I did, under protest, but she sounded so happy by the end of it I couldn’t feel guilty for accepting the additional gifts.

8 Responses to “Wedding Planning: conflict resolution”

  1. As always, I feel like friends and other adopted family members trump actual family at times. 🙂

  2. Stephanie says:

    I agree with your stance, that you should accept the help that’s offered. No need to do everything by yourself!

    Also, I love that your friend is ready to buy you presents (and has found a better deal!). LET HER GIVE YOU THINGS. She wants to! That reminds me, I guess I should start working on a registry 🙂

    The cultural stuff is intriguing to me. I didn’t know some of those foodlike traditions. And yes, some of the wedding stuff is very gender biased, but I think we can try hard and get past the un-fun wording that people use.

    • Revanche says:

      Haha I know, I was roundly scolded, over the phone and on the internet! I caved of course, and replaced the items on the registry with the ones she wanted to buy for her convenience. At some point it’s really about them and I’m going to bow to that wisdom. Also I assume that it’s polite to have a registry up by the time your guests are receiving invitations so they can do what they want, when they want – not sure if you’re really there yet!

      There are quite a few traditions, food and otherwise, that our family’s not yet stopped observing. Part of it is just because that’s what’s easiest to do here in the States.

  3. SP says:

    🙂 Glad to hear things are progressing along! I’m impressed that you are planning such a large affair mostly single-handedly, and in expensive California, especially with balancing all the family expectations! So please constantly tell yourself how great you are doing and feel awesome about it, because it is no easy task!

    I’m excited for you!

    • Revanche says:

      Thank you!
      In some ways, it’s been a tiny bit easier than I was worried it would be but that might be because we’re cutting out a lot of stuff.
      I’m looking forward to getting over the hump and feeling like it’s a party – soon, perhaps?

  4. LOL! “Let me do what I want…” Where have we heard that before? 😀

    Weddings are all about tradition (or flouting it, if you can get away with that). It must be amazingly difficult trying to navigate one culture’s traditions while living in (and having grown up in) a different culture.

    You must be quite a pistol…if I were in your shoes, I would just cave. Hey! Dad wants a full traditional shebang; let’s just do the shebang his way and avoid the headache-inducing arguments. I’d want to get it over with, in the least stress-inducing way possible.

    Y’know, he’s probably very proud of you and wishes, in his way, to show you off to all the relatives in a style that he thinks is most meaningful to them. An adult child’s marriage is as much a rite of passage for the parent as for the bride or groom. For the parent, it marks, officially, the end of the period of child-rearing and the beginning of old age. And it’s another step toward the end of one’s life.

    As for the friends who stand in as the adopted family, all these weddings also mark a milestone in their lives: confirmation of a stage of adulthood for everyone in the cohort, themselves included.

    So in a way it’s not just your event…it’s an event that belongs to everyone who cares about you.

    • Revanche says:

      Haha we’re all yelling that at some point, it seems. It’s even harder for Dad b/c I really grew up in this culture. He just didn’t realize that all the while, I was making notes of the things I didn’t want to do or have 🙂

      And I am my parents’ daughter, after all, they’re both stubborner than a team of mules in their own way. I happened to decide that this is the time to have the headaches b/c I want to enjoy that day and not be crippled by it later or regret it immensely later when it’s too late.

      And you’re right, this is considered as much or more the parents’ day in our culture as the children’s which is why I’m spending the time to “fight” or negotiate the things that are important to both of us. Like it or not, we’re the last two in our family who will ever have this conversation and I don’t want him to feel or be excluded entirely just because we disagree.

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