Saunders

Dad glad for three weddings

Staff WriterNovember 29, 2010 

Dr. Juan Orellana swears that he and his wife, Jeanne, didn't give their children a deadline by which to be out of the house.

It just looks that way

Three of the Orellanas' four children got married within five months of one another this year, and all four were featured in The News & Observer's Nov. 21 "Celebrations" page. The weddings of Jennifer, Adam and Jason were reported, as was the Emmy award won by Nikelle "Nikki" Orellana. "At present," the Emmy announcement read, "she has no plans for a wedding."

Neither do many Americans, a recent phone survey by the Pew Research Center showed. Thirty-nine percent of the 2,691 adults polled said marriage is becoming obsolete, and the percentage of married adults is at an all-time low: 52 percent.

Three Orellanas siblings obviously didn't get the memo that the institution is an anachronism. Jennifer was married May 30 in Durham; Jason was married Aug. 7 in Durham; and Adam was married Oct. 23 in Brooklyn.

Patriarch Juan Orellana, an ophthalmologist, said the timing of the weddings wasn't coordinated, although Jason "in deference to his older sister, held up" so she would be first.

"He said he didn't want to steal her thunder," Orellana says and laughs.

"I had four children in five years," his wife, Jeanne, said. "They were so close that when Jennifer got married, it sort of changed the dynamic," perhaps spurring the other two to follow in her footsteps and down the aisle.

"To show you how close they are," their dad said, "Nikki and her boyfriend get together [in Brooklyn] every Sunday with Adam and his wife to play board games. They call it their 'mental health' day.

"Each has picked such an amazing, spectacular person to marry," he said Tuesday, an hour or so before performing surgery. "They're not in-laws. They're my daughters and son."

Jeanne Orellana said her children married a Greek, a Pole and an Italian. "And Nikki is dating a Filipino." Mealtime when they all get together, she said, "is like my own Disney ride: 'It's a small world after all.' "

Even though daughter Nikelle's Emmy announcement - for her work on a PBS cooking show - stated that she wouldn't be walking the last - uh, first - mile anytime soon, her dad said she jokingly told him: "If I announced I was getting married now, I wouldn't get any gifts."

Dr. Orellana, who practices and teaches in Richmond, Va., but still lives in Wake Forest, sounds joyous when talking about not just his new family additions, but his own children - "They're all wonderful, accomplished adults who've never asked for anything" - and his own life.

"I've been blessed," he said. "Most people fantasize about having the life I've had. I'm a Harlem kid, and I've made it all the way."

Jeanne Orellana said her husband, an only child, "is so excited. He is the best daddy in the world."

It wouldn't be a stretch to say he also might be the happiest.

barry.saunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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