You’ve probably all seen movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Monster-in-Law”. You may have even experienced something similar when you married your spouses. I know I certainly did. In fact, if you’ve seen the movie Monster-in-Law with fellow Latina Jennifer Lopez, you might remember a scene where Jane Fonda hands her a HUGE crucifix so as to annoy Jennifer. When I saw that scene I cried laughing so hard because I had had the same kind of experience.
One night, my MIL hands me a crucifix, a family heirloom, and said I might be interested in carrying it while I walked down the aisle; and my MIL is not even religious! My reaction was to just kind of move it out of sight and redirect the conversation, never bringing up the topic again. Obviously this offended her, because the very next day she had her bags packed and claimed that she wasn’t going to the wedding. Eventually I apologized and convinced her to come back to our apartment but also explained that no matter what she did, I was still going to marry her son, with or without her.
Weddings are hard enough without throwing the multicultural aspect into it. And while these movies make these conflicts ultimately funny, reality is in most cases, the union of a multicultural couple is charged with deep, underlying emotions, probably from both families. These thoughts and emotions tend to manifest themselves right before the big day making the event a lot more difficult and emotionally charged.
The minute my husband and I told our families we were getting married, neither one reacted with joy. My MIL said that she didn’t have any money to come (she eventually made it AND attached a trip to Spain afterwards, go figure!) and my dad just wanted to control everything (sorry, but if I’m paying for my wedding I get to make the decisions). He was also concerned that my husband was marrying me for the green card, although he only implied it and never actually said it directly.
It’s very important for the bride and groom not to lose focus on what the wedding is about…them! And, if it’s about the families, then make sure to be clear on that point too. After all the arguing with both sides, my husband and I decided to secretly elope while continuing with the wedding plans. And to this day, I don’t regret it.
I can go on and on about other scenes from “Greek” and “Monster” that seemed to have been pulled right out of my life. In Part II, I will be discussing some of the compromises we both made to integrate everyone in the multicultural wedding and just like any good movie, hilarious situations and family feuding ensue!