No I’m not planning my own wedding. Growing up in an Ethiopian family I have had the grand opportunity to attend MANY Ethiopian weddings. As I have gotten older I have had the opportunity to see many friends and family members get married. Now as an adult I am getting the chance to celebrate and help prepare for weddings with family and friends. It is an absolutely exciting time, and I can’t wait to one day plan for my own Ethiopian American Wedding.
Who should be the focal point when planning the wedding? Is it what the parent’s want? Is it what society wants? Is it what the bride and groom want? I recently heard someone say “Who cares what she thinks, as long as we are happy!” PAUSE……UMmmmmmmmmmmm I would think the bride and groom’s opinion is of great value. In fact I believe that if the bride and groom are unhappy with the wedding planning, the guest list, or whatever details there may be, there is no point in even having the wedding at all. Can you imagine, the bride and groom looking around at their guests on their wedding day wondering….”who are these people?” “why are the flowers arranged like this?” “I really hate the food”.
Although this may seem absolutely ridiculous, I have discovered is that there are Ethiopian families and parents that actually believe that this statement is true and absolute. In Ethiopia, and among most immigrant cultures, the wedding of a child is the greatest celebration and accomplishment for the family. (the fact that getting Married, although it is a beautiful wonderful amazing thing, is the greatest accomplishment is an issue in and of itself, i mean I would have liked a gigantic large huge 30,000 dollar party for my law school graduation, but I digress). The greatest most expensive accomplishment is the Wedding!! (SO I guess I will have my gigantic large overpriced party when I get married, I digress again).
Seriously, culturally and historically weddings are a communal celebration. Everyone was invited, no expense was spared. In Ethiopia the celebration lasted a whole week. People celebrated every night of the week in preparation of the wedding and everyone helped put the event together. In America, as an Ethiopian American, we don’t have the luxury of getting the whole community to participate in the celebrations. The nuclear family becomes responsible for all the burdens associated with putting on such a large celebration. However, our families still want to hold onto that portion of the culture and still invite the ENTIRE COMMUNITY. A need for holding on to some form of the culture our parents grew up in, the cross over of Ethiopian and American creates conflict between parent and child. It becomes a war when trying to strike that balance between cultural preservation and practicality in today’s American culture and economy. The Ethiopian American struggle once again.
Here’s this Ethiopian American’s point of view. The people getting married should be in control of what happens on their wedding day. Yes, parents should also have a voice in some portions of the celebration, but parents need to take their child’s (now soon to be Mr. or Mrs.) desires into account. What’s the point of having a celebration if the person you are celebrating isn’t enjoying it.
Share your thoughts here! I would love to hear some personal stories from people who are actually going through this or have gone through this. Your perspective is appreciated!!!