This morning just before I woke up I had this dream. I was wedding planning with Sunny, my brother’s Korean fiancée, only we were doing it as a huge Bollywood movie musical number. We were singing together, and somehow by singing to each other in Hindi, with the subtitles translating our words into our respective languages, we were able to perfectly understand each other. Everything was happening in that magical movie montage sort of way in which first we’re shown walking through a huge flower market picking out armfuls of flowers, and then we’re sharing a tender moment putting the finishing touches on her wedding dress, and then somehow we’ve arrived at the wedding ceremony itself, and Sunny is walking down the aisle arm in arm with my brother while my whole family sings and dances our love for her and for my brother. It really was a great dream. I wish wedding planning could really be like that.
It’s been fun so far planning Big Brother’s American wedding, but stressful too. It’s not easy trying to plan an event with people in three different countries (America, China, and Korea), with different needs, who speak different languages. I’m very lucky that Sunny’s English is pretty good, since I don’t speak any Korean at all. Still, it’s a significant effort for her to communicate in English, and sometimes I know things aren’t making it through. Plus, she’s got both being a single mom to her (very active) five year old daughter and maintaining a long-distance relationship with my brother on her plate, plus planning her Korean wedding pretty much by herself. The poor thing has got to be exhausted before the American wedding planning stuff even starts to come into the picture.
And then, sometimes I (with the best of intentions) do something stupid. For example, I was trying to get an idea of exactly how formal or casual of a celebration my brother and Sunny wanted. They had said very casual, but that means different things to different people, and people have a tendency to get very emotionally attached to rather obscure wedding details. While I was discussing this with them, my brother asked me to make a list of American wedding customs, that they could then go down the list and pick which ones they wanted to do and which ones they would leave out. So I did. It was four pages long, listing all kinds of customs from “something borrowed, something blue” to the boquet toss, with small explanations.
Now the problem is, while in America we honor people by offering them choices. For example, on your birthday, you get to choose what your mom makes for dinner. However, in other cultures, our notion that everyone should be able to choose everything for themselves doesn’t make sense. Choices affect other people, so the individual should defer to the group. So when your prospective sister in law sends you four pages of “choices” to make, in a language that it’s work to understand, on top of caring for your child, and spending a whole day doing financial planning with your long-distance fiancé, well, it’s no wonder the poor woman ended up going to bed early, basically curled up in a fetal position.
Luckily, Sunny is as sweet as the day is long, we’re figuring out another time to talk, and all is well. She and Big Brother went over the list of American wedding customs together, and they’re going to let me know what they want. And in the meantime we can move on to the fun stuff, like picking colors, and figuring out decorations. Oh, and the guest list so we can mail invitations. But that’s another story…