My family judges a wedding by cookies. The more cookies, the better the wedding. And not just ANY cookies, they have to be homemade by everyone in the family. And God forbid, you bake chocolate chip cookies. They have to be either Italian cookies or pastries. If the table is long and so laden with cookies that its groaning from the weight, then it will get high marks with the family.
And the menu? Foggetabout it! Its etched in stone. You have to have salad with homegrown fresh tomatoes even if its in the middle of winter in the mid west. You have to have pasta, you have to have chicken, beef, and sausage with peppers. Maybe fish. You have to have potatoes, a rice dish, multiple vegetables and homemade bread and foccacia bread. And that's the basic menu.
According to my feisty and adorable 92 year old great aunt, its not how you decorate the table, its what you put on the plates. And if I offer any suggestions, she'll say to me "Shutta upa you. You don't know notting". I just love her.
The reception has to be a huge party and you have to include everyone from newborns to the 100 year old neighbor who saw you grow up. You have to have wine and you have to dance the tarantella and do the cake walk. It can't be just any cake, it has to be done in an Italian bakery and be soaked in rum, an Italian torte. The top has to have a bride and groom topper. Forget the DJ, you have to have a band. If the band includes an accordion player, its pure nirvana. You are expected to dance and toast the couple. I guess if you don't the marriage isn't sanctioned.
That's my family tradition. But lately, we've had some weddings that have raised rancor and eyebrows. My nephew got married on the beach. It was one of the best weddings I've ever attended, but alas, no cookies and no accordion player. My niece eloped to Napa Valley. Cousins did sit down dinners with exquisite centerpieces, no pasta, no cookies, no band. OMG. Who are THEY trying to impress?
Families hold their traditions dear. You can incorporate your family and the groom's family traditions into a modern wedding. Find a cherished tradition and put it in your wedding celebration. It can be as easy as adding a favorite food or playing a certain song at the reception. One bride hired a belly dancer for the reception as a tribute to her new husband's family and she was embraced into a family that had been cold to her.
A cookie table will placate anyone in my family. Just PLEASE nix the accordion player.