Supposedly, there are two things you don’t discuss at family gatherings; politics and religion. In truth, putting politics aside for one night might not be an option when the bride is a blue-dog-Democrat and the groom is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican….and we are three days away from a major (presidential) election!
Given the current political climate where so many unflattering distinctions are made between left and right, red state and blue state, conservative and liberal, it is kind of fun to peek into how bipartisan couples make their celebrations come together without tearing them apart.
So how does a couple of differing political backgrounds and views put their differences aside for a night of revelry? It is a lot easier than you think.
Spotlight -Bring it out in the open. Without condescension or trivialization, openly address the situation. Have a Election-themed affair with Donkey and Elephant favors at each table. Instead of numbering the tables, name them after your favorite politicians of each party and mix it up. Put Republicans at the Clinton table and Democrats at the Reagan table. If you really want to have some fun, how about large cut-outs of current and former candidates and let guests take photos with them…. just like on the street corners in Washington DC.
Seating Chart - As nice as it is to think that everyone will put their differences aside for one night, they won’t. Think about this when doing your seating chart. Unfortunately this means more work for the couple but, it will be worth it to make sure Aunt Sarah doesn’t go off on a Social Security rant to one of your dearest friends. We all have that one relative or friend who thinks their opinion matters more than everyone else… and they think they are much smarter, as well. Put them where they will cause the least damage!
Edit - Ask anyone giving toast or speeches to make sure they keep it light and fun. This is a great time to jab but, no name calling. Remember that humor goes along way… think of the White House correspondent’s dinner. If you have any doubts, ask an impartial (third party, if you will) person to take a look at what your speakers have to say.
Discuss -Talk to both of your families as a couple, at the same time if possible. Sit them down and tell them that you would like for them to behave for one evening and leave the Obama-care discussions for later. Explain that they have a lifetime to blame Bush (or Clinton) for the current economic debacle but for tonight they need to check all snyde comments and opinions at the door.
Change -Don’t try to change everyone’s opinion to suit yours. Don’t marry someone thinking you will change their political views and don’t presume that your family will change theirs either. Accept the differences and move on.
Topics to avoid are healthcare, immigration, and scandal, as each party is equally prone to having skeletons in their closet. For every John Edwards there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger so be careful when opening that door as it is not an easy one to close.
There are many couples of opposite political views who make it work nicely without sacrificing their opinions. James Carville and Mary Matalin are two of the most opinionated political advisors of different parties and they have had a very successful marriage.
Now, if politicians could only learn to play nice, we might get something done. Maybe we should ask Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to plan an entire wedding……. without the help of their wives!
Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago