I have had several very perplexing conference calls with fabulous clients recently about breasts. But not about their boobs. Or mine.
In one example, the bride's wedding day is just around the corner, and she's planned everything about her weekend to be all about making sure that her family and friends have fun. She is definitely a bride who is focused on her guests. She even let her parents have input on their DJ playlist, something I seriously doubt most brides and grooms even consider. But now she's in a real pickle. And she's such a nice person, she's not sure how to handle it. How do you tell your best friend and maid of honor, nicely, that she needs to keep her boobs put away and skip the public breastfeeding during your wedding weekend??? OMG!
The bride says it never occurred to her that it would be a problem with her very Christian family in attendance until they were out to dinner in an ethnic restaurant with friends last week and her MoH yanked out a boob and stuck it in the kid's mouth... nothing over her. No shawl, no burp cloth, no baby blanket. All flesh and lots of it.
Apparently this friend has about zilch decorum and nobody with them at their table flinched (okay, almost nobody), but it was very, very obvious that the restaurant's service staff was very uncomfortable. And that's when, all of a sudden, the bride realized she had a little problem. Scratch that. A big problem. Not only did she specifically request no children at her wedding and the MoH completely disregarded the request (she's one of THOSE people who drags her baby everywhere with her and threatened to drop out of the wedding at the last minute if she couldn't bring the rugrat), but this friend is a big breast-feeding advocate who doesn't hesitate to whip it out wherever she happens to be, regardless of who is around her and how they might feel about the situation.
My bride is flipping because she has a rather conservative family -- they're Puerto Rican and Catholic and she's fairly certain her grandmother will have a heart attack at the first appearance of the nipple. I'd have to agree. I've lived here on Vieques Island for more than five years and the only time I see breastfeeding boobs in public is when tourists whip them out. The locals do not. And visitors to our island for the most part don't seem to care what the local customs and traditions may be, or if they're making anybody around them uncomfortable. I know this next statement is going to piss people off, but I'm going there anyway -- I think half of them LIKE THE ATTENTION they get when they breastfeed in public. I won't go there as to why they like it -- I'm sure it varies greatly from political reasoning all the way to a "hey, look at me, I made a baby" sorta thing. Whatever the reason, down here in Puerto Rico, visitors should adhere to customary cultural behaviors and remove themselves to a private spot to nurse their children.
Don't even start flaming me -- I know how some of you feel about this. And yes, you do have rights and you can do whatever you want, regardless of how tasteless and in poor judgment many of us may think your actions are. But when you are a guest in a different culture (and Puerto Rico isn't like the United States even though it's a commonwealth), you should observe the very basic practices of that culture. If you don't see nursing mothers on an island like this where everybody has a baby, then people here are more discreet than back up north. Take the hint from the locals.
I listened to all of this and when the bride expressed concern about the reaction of her grandmother and other "local" guests, I had to agree. I suggested that she have the conversation about it with her MoH before they arrive here. There's not much time left and if she's going to be pissed off, let her get it out of her system. If she's so pissed off that she doesn't want to come, rethink the friendship. She's already steamrolled you and is bringing the baby along despite your specific request to the contrary. If she can't have enough respect for the cultural differences and understand this isn't about the staff or the locals -- THE BRIDE'S FAMILY is a part of the cultural group who would be offended, well then... that should make this one a no brainer. Sometimes brides have the meanest, most selfish bridesmaids on the planet and I just wonder what the heck is going on and pray she has real friends someplace else who couldn't get off work for her wedding weekend. But I digress...
I asked the bride how she would like the situation handled if the woman pulls out an uncovered breast and she asked for my best recommendation. I said I'd simply take her a large, clean white linen dinner napkin and tell her politely, but firmly, to cover up. Not ask her, tell her. You'd be amazed the authority I exude when holding a clipboard (I think those things are magic and I strongly encourage the interns to wield their power carefully... hahaha!) and if she's told firmly and politely and offered an alternative right there (the napkin), she will comply. If she doesn't, she's just a bitch and I'm sorry the bride is under the misimpression that chick is her friend anyway. Anybody that self-centered and narcissistic at somebody else's wedding needs a reality check anyway.
As I said, it's not just one bride struggling with this issue. One young lady has decided to have a satin "burp cloth" made to match a bridesmaid's dress in the hopes her friend will find it funny and use it. Another plans to flat out lay down the law, damn the consequences (it's the groom's relative... lol). However you handle it, know that as long as you are polite and offer a reasonable solution or alternative you are in the right here and you shouldn't feel intimidated.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!