Picking a Date

The very first item on our agenda after getting engaged was picking out a date for the wedding. The process was such an ordeal though that I just couldn't bring myself to blog about it until now. But I thought I'd write about it today just to test out my theory that there ain't no trauma that a box of Trader Joe's chocolate raspberry sticks can't fix.

As you might know, Mr. HC's family is Jewish and mine is Buddhist.  Although the two of us are quite secular, we both wanted to be respectful of our families' beliefs, as well as to honor the cultures from which we came.  Still giddy from being engaged and totally naive as to the ways in which wedding planning can be one ginormous pain in our collectively large buttocks, we started looking into dates that would be auspicious for both cultures.  "There's 365 days in a year," we stupidly observed.  "How difficult could this be?"  Idiots!
[Jew-Bu: cute on t-shirts, but much tougher in reality.]

We thought about getting married in April or May, but in the Jewish calendar, the period between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot is a time of sadness and mourning known as the "counting of the Omer."  Weddings are prohibited during at least 33 days out of this seven week period, and even rabbis with fairly liberal attitudes about Jewish law refrain from officiating at weddings during the prohibited days.  So this knocked out a few of our possible weekends.

The Chinese calendar, however, was even less accommodating.  Many people are content to use a Chinese almanac called the Tung Tsing to pick an auspicious wedding date.  Curious?  You can test out your wedding date here. (Hot Mama Cocoa disapprovingly warns that the internet almanacs aren't properly calibrated to the real Tung Tsing.)

[Tung Tsing, courtesy of Mrs. Cherry Blossom]

[The inside of the Tung Tsing.  Is this straightforward or what?]

But if you are super hardcore, like my family, you don't just rely on a book to find a good date. You call up your personal fortuneteller (what?  you don't have one of those?) and ask him to find you not just any run of the mill lucky date, but a date that is particularly auspicious for you and your family.  To find such a date for us, the fortuneteller needed to have the date and time of birth for not only Mr. HC and me, but also our parents, grandparents, and siblings.  If a date was inauspicious for any one member of the family, it was a no go.

To give you a picture of how seriously my family took all this, let me repeat a typical conversation I had with my mother during this period:
Hot Mama Cocoa: "July X is a good day."
Me: "But Mr. HC starts his residency in mid-June.  If we have the wedding on July X, he won't be able to show up to our wedding!"
HMC: Silence.
Me: "How about June X?"
HMC (in a voice reserved for matters of fact, like the sky is blue): "You can't get married on that date.  July X is a good day."
Me: Silence.
Iterations of this conversation went on for weeks.  My sister was threatening to buy me a life-sized cut-out of Mr. HC that I could "marry" on my wedding day, since it didn't seem like the rest of my family were too concerned about Mr. HC's presence.  Meanwhile, Mr. HC and I were getting increasingly frustrated . . . with each other, with our families, with wedding planning. We both knew that my family meant well, that they only wanted us to have a lucky wedding day and a good marriage.  But it was looking like we couldn't even get married because there wasn't going to be a weekend that worked.

Eventually, Mr. HC and I decided that even if we had to get married much earlier than we anticipated, we'd rather accommodate the Chinese calendar than go into our marriage with my family believing that we were doomed.  Thankfully, we were able to find a weekend in March that happened to be okay according to the Jewish calendar and propitious according to the Chinese fortuneteller.  

Lest you go thinking that this is one of those super cheery blog posts with a magically delicious ending, let me confess that the reason this experience is on my mind is because the ordeal is beginning anew with the time of our ceremony.  A Saturday evening Jewish wedding can't begin until after sunset (and the official end of the sabbath), which on our wedding date will be around 6:45 pm.  Of course, Hot Mama Cocoa tells us this week that 7 pm is a "dark hour" according to the Chinese calendar. 

I have no words.  None.  And I just ate 10 chocolate raspberry sticks.

Family/cultural requirements driving you to chocolate?  Kvetch here.

brendalynn  – (November 10, 2008 at 3:29 PM)  

frustrating! I know this doesn't make it better, but I've heard some family complaints about scheduling that are far worse (e.g. my dear friend's grandmother who refused to attend her wedding b/c it wasn't scheduled around a near-in-time bingo event... no kidding!)

We've had repeated issues with trying to schedule around my sister's (and now her husband's) military schedule. I finally got frustrated enough to suggest that we get married at the most recent date we wanted anyway, b/c maybe we're unlikely to ever guarantee her attendance. Yep, made my parents cry over that one. Not a nice daughter! And really, what was I thinking? So... back to the calendar it is!

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