The Wedding Planner

Photo: Zohar Lazar

Getting married is kind of like going on vacation: Everyone’s happy for you; they just can’t help giving you annoying advice. Jake and I decided to marry at a lodge and former brothel in the Berkshires, on a rock in the woods so the sun would be setting as the ceremony ended. We agreed to start at 5:30, but since the place was hard to find, we put 4:30 on the invitations. After we sent them, I called a klezmer bandleader in Boston to request a demo. “When does it start?” she asked.

“People start arriving at 4:30,” I said. “But the ceremony begins at 5:30.”

There was a long pause. “Ohhh,” she said. “I hope you didn’t send the invitations out already … You did? Well, I guess you’ve never been married. If you had, you’d know that people come to weddings very early, hours in advance. You don’t want to give them any extra time to linger.

They’ll be restless and bored.”

We didn’t hire her. We wound up hiring Matt, a friend of Jake’s who was in the klezmer band at Charlotte’s Jewish wedding on Sex and the City. Matt quoted a price, and I called my dad to run it by him. He didn’t say anything. “Jake and I would be happy to kick in some,” I said, “but what I wanted to know is, how much are you willing to pay?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” he said. “I think you’ve gotten the impression Mom and I want to pay for the whole wedding when that’s not the case. We’ll pay up to a certain amount or a certain percentage, whichever is lower.”

“Whichever is lower?”

“I envision this as a shared expense, some combination of you, us, and Jake’s family. I don’t believe in the tradition of the bride’s family paying. I think it’s outdated and unfair.”

“Who paid for your wedding?” I asked.

“When he met me, I’d been a sweet, happy girl, but I had morphed into Bridezilla.”

“It was a different era! Let me e-mail you some breakdowns.” The e-mail looked like an algebraic equation, with three different budgets and phrases like, “where Y=60% of total.”

When Jake came home, I was totally distraught. We’d already told Jake’s family that my parents would do the wedding, and now my family would look cheap and insane. As I started telling Jake the story, the phone rang. It was my dad. “We’ll do the whole thing,” he said.

“What happened?”

“Mom came home and brought me to my senses. I said to her, ‘How did you manage to defuse such a tense situation so easily?’ She said, ‘The same way I’ve been doing it for 33 years. It’s called husband management.’ ” He got all choked up when he said “husband management,” and I realized maybe this wasn’t so much about the money as letting go of his daughter.

“I’m glad it worked out,” Jake said. “But whatever happens, there’s only one part of this that matters.”

“The cake?”

“No. At the end of it all, you and I will be married.”

“So have you written your vows?” I asked.

“I’ve been so busy,” he said. “I promise I’ll get to it.”

Later that day, I went dress shopping with Jake, and after a harrowing experience on East 9th Street, we found a dress at Blue on Avenue A. It was burgundy silk taffeta and very indie-bride, and as soon as we got home I called my mom to tell her.

A few weeks later, I sat down with her to go over a few things. “So I found an outfit for the wedding,” she said.

“What does it look like?”

“It’s maroon, a skirt with a matching jacket. What shade is yours again?”

I felt my head begin to spin. “It’s burgundy,” I said hoarsely. “I already told you.”

“But more of a purple burgundy or a red burgundy?”

It took only two six-hour shopping trips for us to find a suitable replacement—at Lord & Taylor. When I got home, I asked Jake how the vows were coming. “I’ve been doing all this other stuff!” he said. “You have to give me some space!”

I knew what the real problem was: He couldn’t write the vows because I’d been acting totally unloveable. When he’d met me, I’d been a sweet, happy girl, but in the past two months, I had morphed into Bridezilla.

“I know what’s really bugging you,” Jake said. “You still haven’t heard from the Times.” He was right. Like every other woman who grew up in the city, I had been dreaming of reading my wedding announcement in the Times since I shot out of the womb—the thought of being negged made me woozy and psychotic. Months before, after we had set the date, I’d sent in five sheets of detailed information, but hadn’t heard a word. Even if our chances were nil, I decided we had to get in a photo, so I had our wedding photographer meet us in the park. She took two rolls, but Jake looked miserable because I kept screaming at him to keep his eyebrows on the same level as mine, and though I was smiling, it was tight and fake.

The next night, I picked up the photos from the lab. “These are for the weddings section,” I told the lab guy. He had a thick accent and flashing green eyes. “They say if they write about you, you hear a few weeks before, but the wedding’s in ten days. You think that’s bad?”

He paused, frowned, and said, “That is not good.” The air started to feel very thin. I was going to pass out here at Carol Lab. Cause of death: bride attack. Then again, there was an upside to my premature death: If there was no wedding, then it wouldn’t really matter that there was no announcement.

When I got home, Jake was at the computer. “Do you want to hear my vows?” he asked. They were heartfelt and simple and made me cry. “You like them?” he said, turning around to embrace me. I bawled even louder. It was just like him to upstage me.

The Wedding Planner