cheese and crackers.

After booking a reception venue, the next thing to look at was catering. We had hoped to hire a friend of ours, Big Rig, who is a real, live chef at a restaurant. He's the guy you call to work the grill at a party, just because he likes to do it and always does a bang-up job. We must have each thanked him several times for cooking up so many chicken wings at Josh's birthday party, and the next time we saw him, he mentioned that he was interested in catering the wedding. He was already doing the food at the wedding of another friend of ours, and he was confident that he could handle our 150-guest affair.

I was intrigued. It was the kind of thing that could turn out brilliant or terrible. We would have total control over the menu, and would be basically just paying for the food, with a little extra thrown over to Big Rig. I have no doubts about the man's cooking, and I was willing to be convinced that he could handle food on a mass scale. Plus, I liked the idea of people asking me who was doing my catering and then me getting to answer, "Big Rig."

It was not meant to be. Big Rig would need an on-site kitchen, and short of offering up Josh's mom's house, we couldn't figure out how to make that work. Also, most reception venues are very picky about caterers. Some of them insist that you use their own. Others have a list of approved companies. On none of those lists did I see "Big Rig." They don't know what they're missing.

The venue we chose has a list of accepted caterers. If we choose a different one, we can have them added to the list of accepted caterers, for a fee (which covers the administrative cost of...something or other). I started with the list. Several of them had very delicious-sounded menus available, and I was excited about getting to go have a tasting day where we picked out our own menu. Then I started looking at the prices, and I lost my appetite.

I thought about that money, still sitting at my parents' bank, that I had turned down. I thought about a honeymoon. I thought about the car we would need to buy for Josh. I realized that we could pay for the wedding ourselves if we really, really scrimped on the festivities or if we went into debt. A fresh new debt is not how I want to start my marriage. But neither did I want to serve my guests cheese and crackers in the church basement. Having these kind of expensive demands for my wedding made me feel very shallow. If you can't afford the wedding you'd like to have, I guess you can't have it, right?

I called my mom and asked if the Sandra Wedding Fund was still available or if they had already picked out a new pontoon boat. She laughed at me, and said of course, it's yours, shall I write you a check? She didn't want to eat cheese and crackers either. And this was what the money was for - me to have the wedding I wanted, and what I wanted was a fun party for everyone. I'll happily wear the Goodwill dress and some borrowed pearls, but it was important to me that people actually have a good time. I want good food, alcohol, and a band. Is it less selfish if my wedding demands have to do with the things that are for everyone?

I knew that the money was still mine for the asking, but it was a very humbling phone call. Not just because I had already made a big deal about paying for it myself, but also because I don't like the idea of taking money from my parents. It's like I think that not paying my own way all the time makes me less of an adult, even when it's money that has been set aside for years for this very purpose. They're not supporting me, they're giving me a party. That's what I tell myself. I also tell myself that it's stupid to feel bad for failing to live up to a requirement that I pretty much made up on my own.

As soon as I got off the phone, a huge weight was lifted off of me. I was able to look at caterers' websites and not get a worryache. But then I quit after about five minutes, because this wedding stuff overwhelms me.

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