One Wedding, Two Weddings

One Wedding, Two Weddings

One Wedding, Two . . . — We are not talking about Polygamous marriages. How families handle hosting more than one ceremony in a very short span.

Tom and Jean Tokareff threw three weddings last year. They hope to host a fourth, next summer. The Schell family also had three weddings last year, two daughters and a grandmother. And Gerry and Ted McLendon married off a son and a daughter just a few months apart. Double, triple or even quadruple weddings never would have worked, say the families, for reasons as varied as where the couples lived, to different tastes.

Many families end up with more than one wedding in a short span of time. It can be wonderful, but it can put considerable stress on emotions and finances. “You’ve got to be very organized and rational to pull it all off,” says wedding consultant Diana Chase-Bergseth. “You’ve got to work out budgets and timelines very carefully. Usually several families are involved. Make sure everyone understands what is going on, and is in agreement, so there are no hurt feelings.” The Tokareffs’ wedding budgets were clear – the parents had long planned to pay most of each daughter’s wedding – but the timeline was more jumbled. Margaret was the first of three younger sisters in the family to be engaged. But she and then-fiance Ed Clark hadn’t set a date before Violet got engaged, last January.

Violet planned a September wedding in Portland, where she and her fiance, Greg Anderson, lived. Meanwhile, cousin Rosa Reshatova from Russia was living at the Tokareff home in Edmonds while she studied English. She met Dave McCauley, and ended up marrying first, in August. Then, on the way home from Violet’s wedding, Margaret and Ed decided to wed in Hawaii, in November. Each wedding was unique. “Mom always wanted someone to marry at home, at the T-Ranch, as we call it,” says Margaret. “That was Rosa. Everyone helped prepare. There were about 100 guests. “Violet’s wedding was an elaborate church wedding, traditional and elegant. She had 250 people. “We had a fun beach wedding, mostly family, about 40 people.” Now sister Anne is engaged to Andy Fehr. They plan to wed next summer in Idaho, where they live. “There’s already been three big weddings in the family,” Anne says. “I’m about ready to elope!” Though Jean Tokareff gulps at the idea of a daughter eloping, she believes each couple is entitled to “the kind of wedding they want. We want them all to be happy.”

Three weddings in four months did get a little crazy, but since two did not require months and months of planning, there was never much time to worry, Jean says. “We had big phone bills . . . many lists . . . we had a great time.” One wedding is a big deal in most families. When there are two, or more, everything from budgets to calendars to guests and gift lists multiplies dramatically. If possible, all the family members who will make the decisions should sit down and talk, say wedding consultants, who caution that emotions can run higher than usual. No matter who pays the bills, it’s best to include all the parents in at least one discussion at a point earlier than later.

“Get out the calendar and plan carefully,” says consultant Lani Kohler. “Talk through your needs together and individually. Listen to each other: the bridal couples, the parents, everybody.” Then remember whose wedding each really is, she says: “The couple should have the last say.” That’s what happened in the Schell family, where Roxanne was engaged first, to Ken Williams. They planned their wedding 18 months away. Then Kim got engaged to Gilbert Assaker. They wanted to wed sooner, and set a date just 10 months away. The Assakers considered coming back to Seattle, Kim’s hometown, to wed. But since they lived in Arizona, they decided it was easier to do it there. They had a New Year’s Eve church wedding and dinner at a resort with about 70 people, just over a year ago. Kim’s parents, Doris and Lloyd Schell, paid the bills and “phone consulted.” But they were more physically involved in Roxanne’s wedding, a church wedding and buffet reception for about 300. Since it was local, more family and friends could come.

“The two weddings cost about the same,” says Lloyd Schell. The sisters, who are close friends, spent hours on the phone and met for several shopping trips. Each had the other in her wedding. Then, between the two weddings, everyone went to Spokane where Doris’ mother, Jeannette Dore, married Martin Tate. Doris was matron of honor. That was the lowest-stress wedding, Doris says. Her sisters live in the area and helped with the wedding. There were some savings, having three weddings in a row.

The sisters are different sizes, so they couldn’t share wedding dresses, but shared expensive petticoats, reused shoes and both had their parents’ cake topper on their cakes. Grandmother got to wear her blue wedding suit again at Roxanne’s wedding. Lloyd Schell figures he saved on at least one important item: “I bought a tuxedo for Kim’s wedding, and wore it to the other two. That was cheaper than renting three times!” In families where it’s a son and a daughter marrying, the situation can be somewhat easier, say Gerry and Ted McLendon. Their son Chris married Toni Baroh in February. Their daughter Shelley married Stephen Barney in April. Both weddings were in Seattle.

The couples are close, but they never considered a double wedding, says Shelley. “My family concentrated on mine, hers on hers.” There was some juggling to schedule showers and parties, and the couples were in each other’s weddings. “We all enjoyed Chris’s wedding,” says Gerry McLendon. “It was our fifth wedding; we have seven kids. We’d done weddings for two daughters and been to them for two sons, so we’re experienced.” But never had two family weddings been quite so close together, she says. “It was a whirlwind, and it was all over so fast.”

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