The wedding itself went off without a hitch for two reasons. First, the rehearsal the night before was a huge success, if only because we knew beforehand where to stand. And, basically, it was just a wedding, for Pete’s sake, not the launching of the space shuttle.
To sum up:
1. Wedding Party struts painfully slow up center aisle.
2. Wedding Party takes their place, turns to look wistfully at entrance.
3. Triumphal Wedding March. Bride and father proceed at a snail’s pace to front. Everyone marvels at how beautiful bride is and how broke the father looks.
4. Father hands off bride to groom (this is where I come in), smiles (he looked too happy, I thought), and steps to one side.
5. Minister speaks: “Do you..?” then “Do you...?” followed by “C’mon, really...?”
6. “I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss your bride.”
7. I do. We turn and walk to thunderous applause down the aisle and out the door, followed by the Wedding Party.
8. We then return for candid photography.
9. Head to reception.
Wedding receptions are great fun if you’re not the bride or groom. Let’s face it, if you’re the ones who just got married, they’re hassles.
For one thing, all eyes are riveted on you. Everything you do is scrutinized for its “ooh-aah” factor and you can’t even go to the bathroom without it being loudly announced by the (usually blotto) self-proclaimed Official EMCEE. Plus, all the disposable cameras scattered about like donuts at a police station give paparazzi wannabes license to photograph everything from how you handle the Chicken Dance to whether the groom smashes cake into his sweetie’s face (for the record, I didn’t).
And, God forbid, you should pick your nose.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, some yahoo is always rapping the side of his water glass in a bid to get the happy couple to kiss. Now, this is all well and good the first hundred times it happens. The guests get all sappy and the newlyweds have a chance to publicly display their devotion.
But, round about the third hour, this water glass exhortation transforms into an annoying demand for public affection. It becomes kind of creepy, bearing an unnerving resemblance to one of those peep show booths you find at places called Adult World (not that I’ve actually patronized one of those establishments. It’s just what I’ve...uh...been told).
Joined almost at the hip like some matrimonial Chang and Eng, the bride and groom, bound by the rules of proper etiquette, make the rounds to thank each guest for coming and eating their food.
Not too onerous for people you know well. But, it’s a little difficult to hold meaningful conversations with “you know...the children of the fourth cousin of my father’s great-uncle who fought in the war and managed to settle down with that Korean lady who does nails at the Mall.”
Those conversations pretty much go like, “Oh, thank you. No, we used bird seed...it’s better for wildlife and the bums don’t eat it. Uh, the weather? Yeah, hotter than normal this time of year. You bet...um....no, I didn’t think the chicken was undercooked. Wow, all the way from up north...um...I hear the Red Sox will blow it by August. Sheesh, you can’t even tell it’s a toupee, really! Ooops, someone’s banging a glass, gotta run!!”
You get the idea.
The standard wedding rituals are kinda cool. I’m partial to the ole Fling the Garter schtick to a crowd of ravenous, single dudes who swarm all over a little bit of lace and elastic like seagulls on a chicken bone.
Although, I wonder what kind of message it sends that I enjoy pawing up my wife’s leg in order to get a piece of her underwear just so I could toss it to a pack of liquored-up hyenas?
Tossing of the Bridal Bouquet is much more dignified in that the ladies don’t dissolve into a rowdy scrum to grab hold of a handful of flowers. At least here you don’t have to worry about the Flower Girl getting body-slammed into the cold cut table by a frenzied, middle-aged spinster.
In fact, unlike anything the men do, this is much more organized. The bride actually uses a stand-in bouquet, while she keeps the real one as a keepsake.
One of the oddest customs is for the bride and groom to save the top layer of their cake. Once home, this piece of sugary goodness will be placed in the freezer, to be consumed on the night of the first anniversary.
Like all good newlyweds, we kept ours. Although, to be honest, the following year, when we pulled out this mummified glob of brightly-colored frosting and insulation-like cake, we ditched it and instantly headed to Dairy Queen for a couple of blizzards.
Thankfully, the festivities finally drew to a close and we prepared to make good our escape. We said goodbye to close friends, assured out-of-town relatives we’d be sure to visit, and promised to pay the medical bills for the Ring Bearer (who came real close to snagging that garter).
Despite our best efforts for a speedy, incognito departure, the remaining guests gathered at the front door to bid us farewell. We were actually touched that they thought enough of us to do so. That is, until we learned the bar had closed and they were heading out to Virginia Beach.
In a setting reminiscent of the that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the wizard stiffed Dorothy by flying off in his balloon, everyone began waving and wishing us a happy life as we drove away in a rice-filled car festooned with streamers and empty beer cans on the bumper.
Finally alone, we held each other’s hands as we began our lives together. Sure, the day was hectic, fraught with frayed nerves and nagging unease over whether we made the right decision.
Gazing into each other’s eyes (at traffic lights! Safety first, dontcha know!), we knew we were meant to be together and all the aggravations and petty annoyances were just that-petty.
Bathed in the serene glow that comes only with true contentment, I eased our vehicle onto the interstate to whisk us away to a honeymoon lodge, whose location was known to no one save us.
“We’ll be there soon.” I cooed to my wife (wife!) as I coasted to a stop next to the toll booth.
I removed my hand from hers for a brief second so that I could reach into my trouser pocket to fish out toll money.
Reluctantly dropping my eyes from her beautiful face, I look in my wallet. Hmm, that’s odd. I thought I had two one hundred dollar bills in there last night....
Why do I only have two bucks in there now?