1/3 Real Bride Ciji: When Two Become One + Their Families

I am from Texas. Travis is from Michigan. We have different backgrounds and our own way of doing things. A year ago, we traveled to different cities to celebrate the Holidays independently of each other and it was on Christmas morning, 2015 that we decided that we would not spend another Christmas away from each other.

View More: http://raynawooden.pass.us/cijiandtravis

Home is where the heart is. Photo Credit:  Rayna Wooden Photography

His family travels and rotates households for Christmas and it just so happens that Christmas 2016 was already planned for Atlanta, so I began to plan with my family for them to travel to Atlanta as well. For approximately 100 days —  also known as the 1st half of the year — I reminded, plotted and attempted to help them plan a seamless trip to Georgia. I kicked my efforts into overdrive after we got engaged over the summer. In my mind it was a great plan for the two families to meet over the Holidays and get to know each other before our 2017 wedding.

Fast forward to December 19th. After weeks of Holiday parties, end of the year meetings and basking in the spirit of Christmas it finally dawned on me that our families were about to meet each other … for the first time!

Lots of lessons learned and sharing is caring, so here you go:

  1. Over-communicate: I had a lot of great ideas in my head, but I didn’t share them with anyone. Oops! Next time, I will communicate early and often the plan, itinerary, dinner menu, schedule, etc. … Basically all of the stuff that was in my head that would have been beneficial for others to know 🙂
  2. Informal is Key: we planned to have Christmas dinner at a house that I don’t live in and I was a little concerned about not having all of my tools for success to properly host so I planned an informal dinner on Christmas Eve that was intimate and cozy enough for everyone to get to know each other. An added bonus was that my dad traveled with my Aunt Edna’s world-famous chicken tetrazzini all the way from Texas and lifted some of the burdens of slaving in the kitchen so that I could enjoy my guests.
  3. Delegate: mixing family traditions can be HARD! Everyone has their favorite dish that they like to prepare and/or the dish that they have been waiting all year to eat. I connected with the cooking crew a few days out (I should have done it earlier, but we already hashed that out in #1) and we mapped out the menu. Two lessons learned on this one: I wasn’t solely responsible for preparing everything which was a win; and no one person carried the weight of the grocery expenses!
  4. Movies are movies and not real life: Maybe I’ve watched one too many “Meet the Parents,” “This Christmas” and “National Lampooon’s Christmas Vacation” movies. I was just waiting for some excitement, some big political conversation or a sports team dispute but nothing happened. My 1st highlight of Christmas day was that I won my 1st Spades game. The 2nd highlight was the BEST one, the families met, they liked each other and I am looking forward to part two when we all come together for the BIG Day!

13220979_1208455312522525_6649929811674019774_n (1)

One big happy family.

I definitely suggest a pre-meeting between the families before the wedding.  It’s a perfect way to break the ice before the celebration.