Destination Wedding: New Jersey Style

Last month, I got to go to my niece's wedding. She and her fiancé chose to have a destination wedding and it was nearly everything you could hope for--tropical setting, ocean air, palm trees and an intimate gathering of family and friends.
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Last month, I got to go to my niece's wedding. She and her fiancé chose to have a destination wedding and it was nearly everything you could hope for--tropical setting, ocean air, palm trees and an intimate gathering of family and friends. I say it was nearly everything you could hope for, because there was a small matter of torrential rains and gusty winds. Yep, it pummeled us so hard that my niece's dream wedding, which was to be set on a sandy, Florida beach at sunset, had to be moved indoors.

Which proves the old adage about the best-laid plans. Turns out, it's true, and all the money in the world can't guarantee sunny skies and balmy weather. Still, for us, not even a little hard-core rain could hamper seeing the joy in the happy couple's eyes. Which got me to thinking of my own destination wedding, 30 years earlier.

At the time, I was living in Seattle with my fiancé. We were both from the northeast, ergo, our destination wedding ended up being--not in a warm, sunny climate. Not even in the Pacific Northwest, where we were living.

Nope, between us, we had so many relatives and friends on the east coast that marrying anywhere else would have been a travesty of love. Besides, there's that other old adage, "If you can't bring the mountain to Mohammed, bring Mohammed to the mountain." And our family added up to one enormous mountain. So our "destination" wedding ended up being in the Garden State. Aka, New Jersey.

New Jersey? Yep, that's right. And, in our further attempt to remove every iota of schmaltz from our special day, we married in the heart of winter--on a crisp, January morning in which the high was 20 degrees, and the festivities were preceded by a major snowstorm that hit the tri-state area the night before the big event.

Throw in icy roads and black ice, and you get my (snow) drift. This unforgettable wedding came replete with stranded guests, cars that stalled, massive quantities of snow, and a couple of power outages, for good measure. Which, as it turns out, was the icing on the wedding cake.

If truth be told, I cannot take any ownership for the way my wedding unfolded[e. For better, for worse, Mother Nature saw to the weather conditions and my future mother-in-law saw to everything else. In other words, regrettably, I pretty much had nothing to do with the planning. Sure, I helped choose the date, and I agreed to the locale. I also got to shop for my own wedding gown. But beyond that, zippo. All the planning and coordinating of the particulars, the choice of invitations, cake and flowers, I left to my mother-in-law.

She took over, hook, line and sinker, and I didn't complain one bit. For starters, I went into the relationship with her not liking me, and, in order to ingratiate myself on her good side, I let her take the reigns. At the time, it also made sense for her to handle the logistics, as she was living in New Jersey and therefore much closer to the action.

I must say, she was in her element planning that wedding. She chose everything. I didn't even see my bouquet until the day of the ceremony. I didn't know the details of the menu, except for the salmon, which we brought in from the Northwest, in our checked luggage, and I didn't see the invitation until it arrived in the mail.

In the end, this was my mother-in-law's wedding more than it was mine. And looking back, would I have done anything differently? Probably, but given our situation and how far away we lived--and the fact that the Internet didn't yet exist--it seemed the only way to go.

So, to me, the weather--good or bad--doesn't much matter in the grand scheme of things. What makes a wedding special is being able to do it your way--whatever that way happens to be. My niece's wedding was 100 percent hers, from start to finish. She got to plan it herself, with some help from her mother and her fiancé, and she got to choose what she wanted for her wedding. Of course, planning destination weddings is a lot easier today, given our access to the web and email.

Bottom line, nothing can spare weddings from Mother Nature and her sometimes, unruly weather conditions, but when push comes to shove, it's all in the planning--your planning--with a little pluck thrown in. And, we all know, having a little pluck, can go a long way in helping you know how to make the most of unexpected storms.

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