My friend Sue met and became engaged to a young man named Andrei whose family had come to the US from their native country when Andrei was quite young. The family disapproved of Sue, as they had hoped that Andrei would marry someone of his own ethnic background.
During the engagement period, Sue went out of her way to get to know Andrei’s family in the hope that they would accept her in spite of her background being different from theirs. Slowly but surely, she appeared to win them over and they ceased making objections to the engagement and even began to participate in the wedding planning. All seemed well.
Sue and Andrei wanted to have a champagne toast at their reception, but Andrei’s family was very opposed to any consumption of alcohol. After some polite discussion, they arrived at a compromise that the family said they liked and that everyone could live with: Sue and Andrei would toast each other with a small amount of champagne, while everyone else would be served sparkling apple cider for the toast and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for the remainder of the reception. Problem solved! Or so we all thought.
The wedding went smoothly, then everyone traipsed over to the reception location afterward and in due time, the bride and groom were announced. Then came the big moment: the toast. The bride and groom lifted their glasses of champagne, smiled lovingly at each other, and each drank a sip of champagne. At the moment they drank, the groom’s entire extended family – 15 or more people – got up en masse and walked out without a word. They did not return.
The silence was deafening. Both the bride and groom turned pale and looked like they were a split second away from bursting into tears. Ultimately, everyone tried to pretend like nothing was wrong and carry on with the reception, but obviously the mood was dampened, to say the least.
I lost track of Sue and Andrei over the years. Shortly after the wedding they moved to a different state, away from his family. All these years later, whenever a bride and groom toast each other at a reception I cringe inwardly. 0519-11