For the past several months, Jameelah and have been trapped in a profound vortex of darkness, a bottomless well of agony and despair. (i.e., we were planning our wedding reception). If you have never planned a wedding reception before, I recommend that you never get married, because a wedding reception is about as much fun as wrapping yourself in bubble wrap and throwing yourself down a set of stairs repeatedly. Sure, that sounds great at first, but after four months, all your bubbles have been popped, and you’re left bruised and begging for it all to end. I think the concept of the wedding reception was invented to prevent couples from getting divorced, because no one ever wants to go through the process of planning one again.

Four months before the event, we chose a date and a location, which involved running around looking for the perfect place, realizing the perfect place was unaffortable, arguing with each other, then settling on a place that’s less perfect but more affordable. We also created an invitation list, which involved brainstorming everyone we wanted to invite, arguing with each other over who should be invited, then settling on a list.

For the next month and a half, we ignored everything and played Dragon Quest VI, which was a billion times more fun than negotiating with the caterer over what kind of glasses we want or figure out the program schedule. Two months before the event, we started freaking out and having nightmares, waking up drenched in sweat. Desperate and scared, we begged a friend to be our wedding planner, which did not help, since she made us pay attention to stuff, which was highly upsetting. We went through all the stages of wedding planning emotions: depression, anger, arguing, desire to cancel the whole thing, more arguing, weeping, denial, overeating, apathy, resilience, and finally, acceptance.

As if things weren’t complicated enough, I started feeling more and more guilty for ignoring all my Vietnamese cultural traditions. This was the first wedding in our generation, and my father, who had all these hopes for a big celebration, had to reconcile that his crazy son would have an American wedding. With glowsticks. I handed him the invitation card, and he flipped it over, puzzled. “Where’s my name?” he asked. In Vietnamese culture, and probably others, the parents’ names would appear, inviting you to their son or daughter’s wedding. Ours was a 5×7 card, and it said, “Huy and Jameelah are having their wedding reception!”

“In Vietnam,” said my father, “I would refuse to attend your reception. But if this makes you happy, fine.” To appease our elders, we had Vietnamese food and karaoke. Dad invited a handful of his Vietnamese friends, who were all just as confused as he was. At seven, the wedding party entered to Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married,” and Jameelah, in her wedding dress, and I followed right behind to the theme music of Dragon Quest. The fathers welcomed everyone and lit a candle symbolizing the coming together of two families. Then we drank and ate and danced and broke out the glowsticks. The elders, sitting on the side, bewildered by a spontaneous performance of the Cupid Shuffle, had no idea what to do. At one point, two of them gave in, dancing along to an assortment of music, including an energetic West African circle dance.

People drank and danced and sang karaoke. At midnight, the party ended, and four months of aggravation came to a halt. I think everyone had a great time. If I could do it over, there would be several things I would change, such as having someone videotape all the fun, so that years from now, we could show our kids and grandkids and prove to them that we were once young and cool. But all in all, it was good, and now we can slowly regain our sanity and get back to the things that really matter in life: Opening our gifts and find out what people got us.

Look, an easy-to-remember website:


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