So one of you proposed and the other accepted. Mazel tov! The most common place to go from here is excitement and questions – what day will we get married and where – are usually at the top of the list. But where and when should be put on a low simmer while you work out the questions that will significantly impact those choices.
A better starting question is, what kind of wedding are YOU vs. I envisioning? Many people grew up assuming they’d have a church wedding. While others anticipated a synagogue as the site. Some grew up with a clergy person from an early age and they always assumed would that person would marry them. Some have family members who adhere to the traditions of their faith and are therefore unable to attend a wedding in a house of worship other than their own.
Now ask each other, what kind of home do we plan to build? If there will be children, what kind of home do we want for them? Did one or both of you grow up participating in a spiritual community? Is it important to you that your child also be a part of your religious community? Or does one of you feel that another/different religious community is fine. Some say, it can be your religion but there DOES need to be religion. Others want to avoid anything that hints of religion or God.
How important is it that you please your parents and grandparents? What traditions would make them happy and are those traditions authentic to you, or just to them? Are you ready to break away and take responsibility for having a family of your own that may not look like the one your parents created? Or will your wedding be a compromise for everyone?
Who will officiate? Couples often leave this question till the end and that can severely limit your options. When you approach a clergy person, a minister, priest or rabbi, they are going to want to know what kind of marriage and family they are creating. If it is important to you that you have a rabbi officiate then you should not make that impossible. Don’t schedule your wedding for the Jewish Sabbath (sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday). While there are a few rabbis who will perform a Shabbat wedding, you are greatly reducing your options. Additionally, if you have observant Jewish relatives, you may be assuring that they won’t be able to attend. If you want a priest or minister, check with them to see what their limits are. I remember asking a priest to participate in a day long program on a Sunday some years back. He had to lead multiple masses that day. Luckily his church was only 5 blocks away and we figured out a time between services when he could pop over for an hour.
Often as a couple begins to experience conflict with extended family members they ruffle and tell me, “That person needs to respect my feelings! This is my beloved and my wedding!” A good way to receive respectful treatment is to give it. Just as you have a right to your feelings and desires, so too do your family members have a right to theirs. Before feelings are hurt and relationships damaged, give me a call. Chances are quite good that negotiations can be made. If you have to come down with an absolute, we can at least find the words to explain your decision in a way that does not lay blame or dispersions on those you love.