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Destination weddings work well for transplanted couples

She said yes!
She said yes!
C. Rienzo

My daughter’s engaged! Yay her! Yay him! Yay life!

Now for the bad news. It’s been over thirty years since I planned a wedding (mine) and a lot has changed. For starters the whole world seems to feel the need to be much more elaborate about everything, from how one asks the attendants to be in the wedding to rehearsal dinner extravaganzas complete with multimedia entertainment. I don’t think I have even one picture from my own modest little rehearsal dinner.

Thank you very much, reality shows, for all the extra hype. We really needed that.

Another thing is that with the huge impact of social media, all the rules have changed. Do people even put their wedding and engagement announcements in the newspaper anymore? Does anyone besides me even get a newspaper anymore?

However the main difference is that when I got married it was from the same small town, in fact the same house, that I’d lived in all my life. And virtually all of my family and friends, and the groom’s, were within an hour’s drive.

But in today’s world, our lives have become one big transition. No longer do we all remain in the same community where we grew up. In fact, many of us have called multiple places “home” at one time or another, leaving friends scattered all over the place like dandelion spores. Or in this case like flower petals up and down the aisle.

Case in point: my daughter was born in New Jersey and lived there until we moved to Scottsdale when she was eight years old. She now lives in Tucson. Her fiancé (a term she uses at every available opportunity) is from the Seattle area and also spent time in Africa, ultimately also settling in Tucson.

So where to have the wedding? California of course! Because basically every little Arizona boy and girl loves California. They go there for summer vacations and they realize, Hey…some places actually have large bodies of water and aren’t 115 degrees in the summer? When they get older they want to go to college there, though most of their parents overrule that due to the insane cost vs. Arizona’s state universities (she still holds that over my head). At some point they all want to reside there until they discover how much one has to pay for the privilege of living on a piece of land that regularly threatens to detach itself from the rest of the country.

My daughter will settle for experiencing one of the biggest moments of her life in California. Okay, it’s also because it’s where they met and because she’s a teacher who wants to get married in the summer, less the aforementioned 115-degree weather.

It’s not just cross-country transplants who have this dilemma. My nephew James is also engaged. (It seems to be going around. Three of the five people in my office have engaged offspring. And a fourth just got married a few months ago.) James grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Manhattan. His fiancée Christine (for some reason our family has five names that a huge percentage of us share some variation of and when we mention these people we need to use their last names too, and sometimes that doesn't even help: Christopher/Christine/Christina, James, Tony/Anthony, Carol and Kelly) is from Pennsylvania and also lives in Manhattan. Their friends are, of course, all over. They are getting married in New Jersey, not necessarily because it’s where he’s from, but because it’s the most centrally located option.

So now I’m planning a wedding long distance. This of course involves overnight travel to potential wedding venues to check them out. This weekend I’ll be driving the bride and her two maids of honor (basically my three “daughters”) on a road trip to do just that. As long as everybody behaves, it should be a great weekend. And by “behave”, I do mean no whining.

A destination wedding also means trying to figure out whom to invite. It we still lived in New Jersey, this would be simple. I would invite half the state’s population (a/k/a my relatives) and they would all come. However, given that it’s a pretty far distance from the east coast to California, there’s the dilemma of whether to invite people you think might not be able to make it, lest it appear you’re just looking for a gift.

Although there is an old adage which says, “If you invite them thinking they won’t come, they probably will.” It’s kind of like the wedding version of “Field of Dreams”. The Italian wedding version anyway.

This is really the first destination wedding in our immediate family and my poor mother is a bit confused. She recently asked me if the bridal showers would also take place in California. God, I hope not.

Fortunately there are many advantages to planning a wedding in today’s connected society. First, it’s easy and fast to look stuff up on the Internet. It doesn’t matter if what you’re looking at is across the street or across the globe, you can see it just as clearly on a website. It seems most of us prefer to look at a computer than out the window anymore anyway.

Second, websites like Pinterest are so much easier to use than clipping pictures, articles, and sundry ideas and toting them around in a folder or binder that always seems to be getting lost or coming apart. My daughter has apparently been planning a wedding on Pinterest since the day it was launched.

And third, no matter what kind of event we end up having, no wedding costs more than one in the New York Metropolitan area. It just doesn’t. (Of course nothing is as cheap as eloping, for which my husband is still holding out hope.) And if for no other reason than that, moving to Arizona once again proves to have been a good life decision.

There will be sure to be bumps in the road as the big day approaches (did someone say “Bridezilla”?), but as the bride-to-be used to say when she got into teenage trouble, “It’s just a bump in the road. We can either trip over it or step over it.”

And that’s kind of what a wedding is, a celebration of getting your child over all those bumps in the road, and reaching the day when she finds someone else to hold her hand over future bumps. Someone who will also maybe hold your hand when you start falling down a lot. But that's a story for another column.

Congratulations Christina and Erik!

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