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Weddings: Her special day—and theirs too

By DIANA MARSZALEK, For The Associated Press

As a babysitter and church school teacher, Liliana Galicia had no qualms about having children attend her September wedding.

In fact, Galicia, a 23-year-old from New Rochelle, N.Y., embraced the idea, incorporating about 40 young guests, mostly relatives, in the festivities. Kids—who ranged from 2 weeks old to 15—got pizza, crayons and crafts, and many of them got a spot in the wedding party to boot.

``I told German (her husband) that it's going to be a little chaotic but it's worth it,'' Galicia said, adding that she was not concerned about the kids' behavior ``as long as they didn't destroy anything that was not mine.''

Models Carla Soto and Itzi Cruz at the
2008 Gallippos Bridal Expo

Getting married was a chance for ``a family moment,'' she said. ``I really think that my family deserved to be there and that I deserved to have my family.''

Although modern brides are sometimes caricatured as selfish ``bridezillas,'' there are many who believe that weddings are about celebrating family and community rather than simply being the belle of the ball.

It's an idea that is both traditional and, in some cases, trendy. For Galicia, who moved here from Guatemala, giving extended family a voice in the wedding has roots in her home country and culture. Other couples come to the same conclusion for personal, as opposed to traditional, reasons. They might hope to turn the focus of the day toward a cause or charity, or reach out to relatives, even including them on the honeymoon.

``There are so many ways for brides to involve their families or communities in their wedding day,'' said Karry Castillo, a Central Florida wedding planner. ``We really encourage our clients to think outside the traditional wedding box.''

One couple with whom Castillo worked invited guests to go with them on a post-wedding Caribbean cruise. Another client, an avid runner, invited friends to take part in a charity run leading up to her wedding day.

The stress of planning a wedding can easily bring out primadonna behavior, Castillo said; sharing or doling out responsibilities to friends and family can help, emotionally and also financially.

One Mexican-American community in Los Angeles, for example, keeps alive a longstanding Mexican tradition by pitching in to cover wedding costs.

Acting as “padrino” or ``madrina”—Spanish for godfather and godmother, or sponsor—family or friends take on a range of responsibilities, providing and paying for parts of the festivities including food, photos and the couple's clothing, said Araceli Ulloa, 19, of Los Angeles, whose family often helps couples in such ways.

The custom, which also applies to other big events, can take different forms depending on the people involved, Ulloa said. In one case, a bride or groom's family may ask close friends or relatives for help. In another, people offer first.

Either way, the idea is that communities pool resources to help out when friends or family need it most. Being asked to be a sponsor is considered an honor.

``It's with people that you feel close to and comfortable,'' Ulloa said.

``It makes me feel special. I know I will be able to count on them, and they know that I will be there for them anytime.''

For Tami Mount, of Larchmont, N.Y., being included in her cousin's North Carolina post-wedding weekend felt special too.

The cousins grew up sharing vacations on the Outer Banks, so Mount's cousin and his bride asked the extended family to stay with them for a weekend at the beach after their wedding.

Rekindling those family beach vacations—with a new member to boot—gave special meaning to the wedding for Mount.

``We were honored and thrilled to get called back to our playground for a week together,'' said Mount, whose husband and daughter also joined.

``Our parents still got the best rooms in the house, but at least the newlyweds didn't have to sleep in bunk beds,'' she said. ``They didn't care that we brought along our babies—it was the making of new memories to mix with the old that they wanted.''





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