Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My brother is getting married in a month.

We used to like the girl, excuse me, woman who will be his wife, but somehow after the engagement was official all this new information surfaced.

I started to type up the history of their relationship, but it's just too long and boring. To summarize:

They started dating in fall of 2000, when my mom got sick.
She seemed very sweet at first, very involved in our family.
She is first generation American, from a culture that suffered attempted genocide.
Her family said "You'll never marry a Jew."
They dated anyway.
And continued to date.
She was needy.
So was he.
Her family demands a lot of their time. Lots of activities.
On again, off again.
She likes nice things.
She is used to having nice things.
He is emotionally and vocationally immature.
He gave her my mother's ring.
She liked the ring, even though it's small.

He complains that our family is too scattered and that we don't support each other.
They will marry in her church, even though she is not religious.
He converted so they can marry in her church, even though she is not religious.
Even though none of it means anything to either of them.
He does not understand why this is difficult for the rest of the family to accept.
They will raise the (assumed) children Christian, so as not to confuse them.
There will be "nothing Jewish in her house."
Ostensibly, so the children will not be confused.
He does not understand why the rest of the family is so upset, we were never very religious anyway.
Religiously they will be Christian, culturally (theoretically) they will be Jewish and (her culture).

His oldest friend cannot be his best man because he is not baptized in the Christian church.
She asks me and my sister to be bridesmaids in the wedding, set to take place 2 months after my twins are due. I accept with a caveat.
My water breaks at 20 weeks.
He comes to visit, leaves the day of the delivery.
In my grief, I pull out of the wedding.
My sister gets pregnant, with twins, due in October.
Won't be able to travel from LA for the wedding due to 28 wks pg with twins, so she pulls out, too.
My sister loses her twins at almost 18 weeks
Neither of us are in the wedding, but will both attend.
No one on our side of the family attends NY bridal shower.
He feels unsupported.

Invitation comes.
Sunday afternoon church wedding in July, 3:30 pm
Sunday evening reception, 7pm. Black tie optional.

What the hell do I wear?


Okay, kinda long for a summary. There are a TON of issues in there, which I'm sure you can glean. I'm choosing to focus on the stupidity of an afternoon church wedding and black tie optional reception 3 hours later.

The wedding is in the NY metro area (NOT in the city), reception is probably 30-45 minutes from the church. I went to Ann Taylor and found some pretty dresses, but they are deep red (gorgeous, and a great color on me). They come in other colors, but I don't know which I would choose.

Do I get two dresses, one for ceremony, one for reception? Do I accessorize the hell out of one dress (make casual, make formal) and add make-up/jewelry for the reception?

Really, it doesn't even matter. And would it be bad to wear a deep red dress to a wedding? Really? Even if I wear a shrug or a wrap or something with it? Black dress doesn't work for an afternoon wedding. Deep blue? The bridesmaids are wearing long, strapless graphite colored dresses.

I'll see if I can find pics of the dresses that I found.

In the mean time, any thoughts/questions on clothes and my new sister in law are welcome.

*** Updated***
At this point our frustration with the future SIL is less about the religion and more about how things have to be her way. Didn't really go into it on the post, but he kind of lets her dictate a lot of what they do and how. A lot of times he gives in and says, well, the wife usually gets the final word anyway. Like he's given up and is already practicing his "yes, dear." Who is this man? Makes me sad and mad.

There is more, but too much to go into. He seems to think her pushy family is better than ours because they are all there, all the time. Ours is not, but we are there when it counts, I think.


Busted said...

Wow. Good times...

I think deep red is perfectly fine for a wedding. And I think an Ann Taylor dress is exactly the type that can be dressed up/down with accessories to suit both the church and reception.

As for the future SIL - yikes. It seems a bit confusing to me that your brother would so happily give up his heritage easily for the sake of a religion his betrothed doesn't even follow. I wonder how much further this could be taken? I'm biased obviously, as I'm Jewish, and I sense something harboring on anti-semitism there, but still. (And I should note, I'm a strict atheist, but still call myself Jewish, and would never give up the cultural aspects of my Judaism - I still proudly display my menorah, have a star of david necklace - so shunning one culture/religion over another really irks me in that respect). I'm sorry your whole family has to deal with this.

Sue said...

Hey, Busted, thanks for your response.

Yeah, like you, we are pretty atheist/agnostic, but the symbols, the culture and the history are very important. Some members of my family are more "religious" than others, but seeing as the elder members of my family were born during or already alive during the depression and WWII, it's especially hard to hear "nothing Jewish." The charge of anti-semitism is met with alarm and offense from them, but it seems appropriate. Unless it's just appalling naivete. One would think that since both families come from cultures that faced genocide, there would be understanding, but apparently, there is not.

She says it's not important, but clearly, it is to her. My brother asked me what *our* children might say when posed "what is your religion?" I said that they might say "both" or "none of your business." But, I think, you can't say you're letting your child decide, unless you educate your child in his or her whole background.

And thanks for the thoughts on what to wear.

loribeth said...

Yikes. Sorry you are having to deal with this! Re: your dress -- it's so hard to know what the local customs are, but I really don't see anything wrong with wearing red, or wearing the same thing to the church & reception. Dh's family all change in between, but most of their weddings usually take place around noon with evening receptions, so there's usually time to go home & change. Still, it's a pain (not to mention expensive, since it would never do to wear the same thing you wore to the last family wedding...!). Good luck!

DJ Heavy D said...

I won't comment on the sister-in-law/religion thing, but I will on the dress.

Ann Taylor has some great dresses right now, and I think many of them you can dress up or down with a simple button down sweater. I've done this many times. Some churches are funny about women wearing strapless dresses (I have no idea if this is the style you're interested in), and I've worn a light sweater over a dress to get around that problem. Simply ditch the sweater for the reception.

I think a deep red, maybe not a bright red is fine for a wedding. And I'm thinking no to a bright red only because your bride may be overly sensitive ("she's stealing my spotlight with her red dress!"). Alternatively, AT has some nice black and white options which I think are fine for afternoon and/or summer.

Plus, you're right about the jewelry--you could go with no, or very simple jewelry for the ceremony if you have something flashier in mind for the reception.

Good luck.

Sue said...

Thanks, guys. I would say the dress is sort of a deep crimson. Not a wine red, but not fire engine red either.

luna said...

ah, no need to elaborate, it's clear she controls every detail. don't we all have someone like that in our family?

sadly there's not much you can say or do with your brother as you run the risk of alienating him further if he disagrees, as he is bound to. of course you can say certain things (e.g., what's up with the the anti-semetism?). but anything that questions what he's doing would be unwelcome. but you already know that...

logistics like that always annoy me. as for the dress, deep red is gorgeous, if it's good on you I say wear it and be glad you don't have to wear the wedding party dress! you can dress it up for the party, add a shawl or something if you need it. I'm sure you'll be gorgeous!

weddings have a way of bringing out all the best family dynamics, don't they? good luck.

Tash said...

OMG, deep red for formal! YES! Wow the socks off 'em! I'd lend you jewelry but I'm kinda an accessory dorkus. But I'm sure someone else here could take you in the right direction.

Um, have you thought that uber-religious ceremony might actually be, well, long? Hence the timing? Because I've been to some serious-ass weddings that lasted for-fucking ever. (Mine, in response, was about five minutes.) Just sayin'. Bring a phone you can play games on.

As for the SIL: well. I know this type. She married my high school ex, and he did the same thing, convert, roll over and play dead while we all stared in amazement.

And then we never heard from him again.

Ya Chun said...

I am afraid he just has to figure this one out on his own.
What christian church forces you to be Christian? We got married at my hometown church just cause it is a venue, and my dh is not baptized and what not. I am not C either, but I was raised as one. What does a paper conversion mean? anyway.
Maybe he craves familial closeness, but has misdefined it? My family all lives together (far far away from me) but no one really knows what is going on with anyone else and all they do is gossip. But they are "there".
He may have his limits, and maybe they are just in different areas. Triple S couldn't care about somethngs and they are totally up to me, but others he has total control of.
Dress sounds smokin'. Yeah, watch about the church's regs, sounds strict!

Betty M said...

Coming late to this one. If the wedding is Orthodox or Catholic with a full mass 1.5 to 2 hours would not be unusual. If they are doing photos after on the church steps then thats another 30-45 mins. Way to long in my view.

I do know others who have converted for similar reasons but not to marry people who would deny the previous faith/culture of the spouse. That in this case does seems anti-semetic from what you say. However I wouldn't put it past some Christians to have the same reaction to other Christians of a different persuasions - Catholics vs Protestants in some parts of the UK for eg - so putting it more into the general xenophobia category rather than the anti-semetic one - not that either frankly is acceptable. Some would dispute this but as a non-Christian it is sometimes easier to see from the outside.

The dress sounds great.

Anonymous said...

As others have said -- the ceremony may be so long that the timing makes a certain amount of sense.

My SIL is kinda (by which I mean psychotically) controlling and, though it doesn't seem to bother my brother, it really annoys me.


Julia said...

So I am ages late to this-- just reading up on everyone from my wedding (sister's)-caused dropping of the bloggy ball.

Just wanted to say that your future SIL sounds like a piece of work, and I am sorry about that.

As far as the dress? Hell, yeah. We just wore deep red as bridesmaids for my sister. So there. Not that the wedding was black tie, but the bridal party guys did wear tuxes.