February 2012- A trip or two down the aisle

Lots of people get married every year. Some of them even seem to be happy about it. Some people like weddings so much that they have a number of them during their lives with numerous other people.

I’m not overly fond of weddings, even though I’ve been to a number in my life, even as part of the wedding party a few times. But I’m not the marrying type and I’ll never have a wedding of my own, for various reasons, and I actually find the whole process to be silly. There’re traditions and rituals and superstitions and vows to be said and things to be done in very specific ways and fancy clothes to put on. And usually a mishap or two along the way.

Children tend to be reliable only in being not. At one wedding I attended, the bride (or more probably, the mother of the bride) may have pictured the cherubim-like flower girl toddling down the aisle tossing rose petals through the air with cherubulimic glee. But when the time came, the poor little girl slowly trundled dazed and zombie-like towards the front of the church, carefully picking one petal at a time from her basket and dropping it to the floor, while numerous relatives that she probably didn’t even recognize hissed encouragement at her from the pews.

The ring bearer simply raced as fast as he could to the front where his grandmother was sitting. He quickly became bored and took off his shoes and, with remarkable aim, threw them at the bride during the vows. Granted, I empathized with his sentiments, but as the best man, it would have been considered poor form if I were to throw my own shoes at her. I settled for politely picking up his shoes and returning them to him, so that he could throw them again.

It’s not just children who are unreliable – human nature dictates that whatever is planned will simply not happen once free will is introduced. One couple decided to save money by putting disposable cameras on all the tables for the guests to take pictures with, planning on gathering them all up at the end of the ceremonies and celebrations to develop and place into a sizable album. Why they didn’t anticipate that the guests would take the cameras with them when they left, I’ll never know.

This was also the same wedding where the officiating clergyman asked everyone to rise when the wedding party began to arrive … and then forgot to tell the audience to sit back down. It was an outdoor wedding, in the summer, and it was humid with no shade. And it was long. Very, very long. Most likely, the cameras were taken in spite.

Once upon a time, once the bride and groom were married and walking past the well-wishing guests, rice was thrown at them for luck. This tradition lost popularity for various reasons; rice was hard to clean up (true); it was hazardous to walk on when it was on a hard smooth surface (true); and it was deadly to birds (not true – sorry, Ann Landers.) For awhile, when the entire death-to-birds myth was being bought into, birdseed was thrown instead.

Frequently these days, however, small vials of bubble juice are handed out, and guests blow bubbles at the happy-ish couple on their way past – or more usually, spittle-like streams of bubble juice is launched at them by the more enthusiastic blowhards. I can’t say with any certainty why bubbles caught on, but there was that one time at one wedding where a certain guest who was definitely not me got frustrated trying to untie his bag of birdseed and gave it an angry toss into the air, dispelling the good luck myth for all to see as it smacked into the newlywed bride’s eye.

Wedding receptions are often not so much a celebration of the nuptials as a celebration that they were survived. Food is eaten, clothes are dripped on (at one wedding, the clever bride invented a “Bridal Bib” to wear over her dress to keep it clean),  cake is served, and eventually, the DJ breaks out the same CD that every wedding DJ owns: “Bad Music that Middle-Aged People Can Dance To.” If I’m lucky, the reception will have a bar, because there’re only so many times I can watch the groom’s grandmother do the Electric Slide before I need another drink.

As it is, I don’t dance myself; there are some things mankind is not meant to see. And after years of making excuses and pleas and hiding in the bar to avoid being dragged out to the dance floor, I discovered the perfect way to avoid all wedding unpleasantness: a video camera.

Holding a video camera to your face, whether you’re actually recording or not, is an instant Get-Out-Of-All-Wedding-Activities card. No more being accosted for the dollar dance. No more forced attempts to catch the bouquet or garter. No more Limbo contests.

And most importantly, no more Chicken Dance. That, right there, recoups the cost of a video camera immediately.

At the end of the night, if you don’t want to be bothered with numerous requests for copies of your tape that you know no one is ever going to watch again anyway, just sadly let them know your camera didn’t work. Additionally, you’ve also been able to gather evidence for nearly any future blackmail attempts you may need to make against your friends, for it’s a lot easier to ask for a monetary loan if you remind the person that you have film footage of them drunkenly doing the Macarena shirtless.

Hey, it worked with my aunt.

(I feel I must point out that a video camera won’t help you if you’re actually one of the two people getting married. If you’ve reached that point and want to get out, you’re on your own. I can’t help you.)

(Try the bar.)

I’ve been to many, many weddings- good, bad and bizarre. But the best advice I ever learned about attending a wedding came at my own brother’s nuptials, when late into the night, as the reception was nearing its close and two inebriated factions of my new sister-in-law’s family began to argue and were about to come to blows, she hiked up her gown and marched right up between the two biggest, red faced would-be-brawlers. She pushed one to the ground and shoved her fist in the face of the other man, and said in a voice that was not to be trifled with, “Don’t you dare ruin this wedding!”

Whenever I receive a wedding invitation in the mail, it’s her voice and her words I immediately hear.

And since then, I’ve always passed on the birdseed.


My editor forced me to re-write the following paragraph for publication:

Frequently these days, however, small vials of bubble juice are handed out, and it’s the guests’ job to make bubbles blown at the happy-ish couple on their way past- or more usually, spittle-like streams of bubble juice will be launched at them by the more enthusiastic of would-be blow-jobbers.

  1. Melanie said:

    I can totally understand why she would force an edit of those lines in that small town. Now get that into the Baltimore City Paper n it might fly.

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