Surviving the blessed affair


Weddings are strange and wonderful things. I have had great times at some of the worst and best of them. I have known nearly each person there, or just the one who invited me. The point of a wedding and reception is to celebrate their relationship, and get out alive.

There are a few rules I live by in the wedding world. The first rule of thumb is to never bring a date unless you are dating someone. It is a burden to the bride and groom to have one more person attend. Second, it is a challenge to get the right person to go to the wedding with you. One might want to dance too much, drink too much, or sleep with someone else too much. Of course the opposite is true where a date may just want to sit at the table like a wall flower. Finally, unless you are very serious about the other person it can give the wrong impression of intent, or worse you may miss an opportunity with a new person you may meet at the wedding.

This is not to say I will not go to a wedding with another person. In fact, I always say yes when invited to a wedding. Not to boast, but I think of myself as the perfect date to a wedding. If you want to dance, I dance with you. Do you need to impress members of your family to get them off your back? I lie about employment very well knowing just enough about medicine, taxes, and rodeo clown work to give them the impression of just how successful I am. Drinks? I’ll grab them. It’s on me for the cash bar. And because I don’t drink, I can drive us home safely. Is there a relative you have always wanted to tell off? I’m your guy. They won’t see me again and I can be very blunt. I am whatever you need me to be, and always a gentleman at the end of the night.

In 1999 I was in St Louis for a conference and had a free evening. Having seen the arch, with no ball game that night, my list of things to do in St Louis was complete. There was one of the major bookstore chains a few blocks away where I spent an hour. A total of forty-two different magazines were on the rack that focused on weddings, planning for weddings, how to be a bride, and many of them were just about dresses.

It was this moment I had an epiphany about brides – give them whatever they want. The pressure is unbelievable. I know women have thought of this day for years. Dolls would re-enact the perfect scenarios in youth, years of pictures, scrapbooks and songs, and boyfriends, and conversations, and friends, mom, grandma, sisters, fathers and everything leading up to this one moment in time. A shopping bag full of magazines telling brides what is popular, best vacation, best dresses, hottest spots, checklists, pull out budget guides, bridesmaids color chips… I’ll stop here, you get the point.

When I say, give them whatever they want, I mean it. My first theme wedding was a mid-evil motif. Men dressed in a fairy book prince charming type of garb and the bride in a full blown princess gown. They could afford this only under a clear blue sky of a gazebo – which was free. The Star Trek wedding was a bit surprising to me. I thought I knew about Star Trek being raised by two huge science fiction fans, but I was mistaken. Hand crafted tailored costumes were worn on both sides of the aisle. “The Next Generation” was the era the wedding took place, if that means anything to you. But there were a few brave guys who dressed in Klingon – a few tried to speak it. There was a time when swing was a big thing – there was a wedding to match it, zoot-suits and hooped skirts. There was a goth wedding in all black, the reception was pretty fun, but dark. I’ll never forget the Boy Scout wedding where it seemed like a normal ceremony at first, but the bride wore these stinky old rotten tennis shoes. The reception was in the basement and catered by the ladies of the church. The appetizer was an old Boy Scout recipe – cheese wiz on toast cut into triangles. During appetizers, a full hour slide show was presented. It started with each of the two being born, through childhood, high school, then how they met in college, and up to the very week before. It’s an hour I won’t be getting back.

It’s your wedding day, and you only get – three maybe four of them in your life time. Make the first one count. Make sure the wedding reflects the love you share, not the trends or pressure you fall victim to.