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Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.

I’m lucky; I could actually write about a few things. Being a lover of all things Scottish, I usually agree with Burn’s poetic observation, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley.” (Some Scots are hard to understand.)

Last May my son got married to a wonderful woman. Finally. They decided to have their wedding in Sonoma, California (3,000 miles away), and even though they second-guessed themselves a number of times, they finally realized that this was indeed what they wanted to do, and kept moving toward the goal. They decided on a budget and handled the plans realistically and efficiently.

Meanwhile, the rest of us had to do the same. It’s not easy moving so many people from point A, B, and C to Sonoma. But we all supported their decision and made our plans. It would be not only an occasion but an adventure, for none of us, except the bride and groom, had ever been to California before. We all stayed in the same kid-friendly hotel with a pool and free breakfast. That made it easy for everyone, family and friends, to blend and enjoy one another’s company, and they did! The younger people (under thirty-three’s) used the hotel’s front patio for evening gatherings, bothering no one, but doing what they do best — drink beer and wine, of course, and talk. The very young people, 10 and under, worked out their energy in the pool.

As if guided by a divine hand, literally, everything went incredibly well: the church was beautiful; the priest, personable and amusing; the winery, a perfect spot for celebrating — with outstanding views over their vineyard from a stone patio, dinner in the cave, and dancing in the tasting room.

We have wonderful memories of the event itself and all the other things we got to do — as old family and expanded family. The kids’ favorite spot was the Jelly Bean factory, while older visitors loved Muir Woods, the coastline, the Bridge, the city and Alcatraz. Even getting lost was an pleasant adventure.

This was the third wedding we’ve had in our family, and all have gone well without tearful dramas or major mishaps.

Why, I wonder, have we been so fortunate? First, no daughter, mine or someone else’s, has been a Bridezillas. All have wanted a nice wedding, but no one’s been over the top in their expectations. The marriage was more important than the celebration. None has wanted to break the family bank for the most important event of their lives — nor felt shortchanged by spending within their and our means. They weren’t aiming for an event to impress others. For them it was always a family first event, with the benefit of having close friends with them as well. Unreasonable expectations invariably lead to some disappointment. We were all able to roll with the punches, too. If something just wasn’t going to work out even though we tried, we were able to put it aside and move on. The planning was a family event, with all of us doing what we did best, and all were a joy to attend and celebrate.

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