Lucky me.

Every woman who has ever planned a wedding, and even every person who has known someone who has planned a wedding or is married, has heard stories of the dreaded "in-laws." Blending families can be stressful. There is history. There are memories and traditions that differ from family to family. Deep and strange emotions surround weddings that, I believe, can kind of make people crazy. But in the face of all of that, I can say "lucky me."

Lucky me that my "FMIL" -- that's the silly way today's wedding Web sites and blogs refer to the "future-mother-in-law" as if she were some alien outsider -- has known me for seven years. She's seen me grow up and has been there through some of the same life events that my best friends have seen. She respects me and my relationship with her son. Beckie and my mom (in the photo with me above) get along to boot!

At a recent get-together Beckie told the story of my first stay at her home, when I marveled at the sun coming up over the soybean fields as "so beautiful." It really is a gorgeous sight, but after some years and now that I am living in the country, those sunrises are more familiar but equally as beautiful. To me, that's the perfect metaphor for what happens when lives merge -- even if two people have experienced a seeming total opposite in life experiences.

Lucky me that Patrick's dad and brother and sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and many cousins, aunts, and uncles, are very different from my own. Lucky Patrick that he now feels comfortable during my family's crazy holiday "lock-ins." What at first seems jarring or different eventually fades away to reveal a family to respect and cherish.

I feel like there is so much in the wedding culture that tells us we must clash with the "in-laws," and there is nothing that says, "you can do this; you are lucky to have them." Well, that's how I feel. We can do this. Patrick and I are lucky to have eachother, and we are grateful to know that in a few weeks we can say we have a family doubly strong.

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