Cultural differences 3
I’m going to my parent’s wedding party.
Although there is nothing technically wrong with this statement, it might ‘raise a few eyebrows’ (an idiomatic term meaning ‘to cause a surprise’). At first reading, it perhaps suggests that the speaker’s parents have decided to get married and then have the party that traditionally follows after the marriage service. (Well, in this day and age this might not be too surprising.) The term 'wedding party' could also be a term given by hotel and restaurant owners to describe a particular group: Put the wedding party in the main hall and the rest of the guests in the reception.
It is perhaps more likely that the speaker’s parents are having a party to celebrate their wedding anniversary. To be clear: an anniversary is the day that we choose to remember because of something important. It could be a wedding, a battle, the founding of a company, the number of years someone has been in business, and so on. This event occurs on the same date of the year that this happened. So as an example, the 22 October 19XX (No, I’m not going to tell you when exactly) is the date that my wife and I met for the very first time. (Yes, some people do like to remember this date and then celebrate it in some way because it reminds them of a very happy time.) So depending on the year you are reading this book, we have celebrated the twenty-second, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, etc. anniversary of when we first met. Well, perhaps we don’t…
The listener’s parents are more likely having a party to celebrate the anniversary of the day they got married, or is more commonly known as their wedding anniversary. And as you will see in 'Vexing Vocabulary' (click below), the party often occurs when the number of years since that important date reaches a very important number: ten, twenty, twenty-five, fifty, and so on.