Yeah, I Know, but Mine Really Is Special
Everyone likes to think that their wedding is special and unique. But the truth is, if you’ve lived a long time it’s likely that you’ve been to many of them. In general, I’m not a fan of attending weddings. I go when they’re with people I like and for whom I’m happy. But they’re long and they follow a fairly predictable pattern:
1) House of worship
3) Matching dresses/suits,
4) Time lag between the ceremony and the reception,
5) Cocktail hour,
7) Entrance of the bridal party
8) Standard dinner menu
9) Father-daughter/Mother-son dance
10) Catching of the bouquet/garter
11) Wedding cake
Of course not everyone does this, but it does seem to be the template that has continued to be followed. Consequently, with the exception of the bride and groom and their families, these events are likely to be forgotten by most, except for the residual remembrance of a nice feeling
on witnessing an event where people are all united in celebrating something positive.
Weddings that stay in the mind of everyone in attendance forever, are those that have some dramatic, unexpected, component.
These could be:
1) The bride or groom showing up horribly late, leaving people to imagine the worst
2) A knock down drag out fight
3) An inappropriate toast, revealing some better-to-be-kept-under-wraps, secret
4) Food poisoning which affects all in attendance
5) A celebrity in attendance
Having been to many, many weddings and not having had any of the above occurrences take place, there hasn’t been much to remember about nuptial celebrations.
At the risk of falling into the cliché offered at the beginning of this piece, I’d like to think that my and my wife’s(Allison) wedding is the exception. To be fair, we were a relatively older couple (53 and 44) and weddings at an older age are often less traditional. However, for a pair of fairly traditional people, we opted to deviate substantially from the cookie-cutter model. These were the elements of our wedding:
1) House of worship-neither my wife nor myself is the least bit religious. I’ve seen many couples who, despite their lapsed beliefs and practices insist on being married at a religious institution for no other reason than it’s expected. Allison and I found a place where we could have the ceremony and the reception-An out building of a hospital which is used strictly to raise funds for the hospitals auxiliary activities. We were married by a cantor which was a nod to the fact that we both have a Jewish heritage despite not being in a temple except for funerals (and weddings) in many years. What is even more true is that the cantor was a long-time friend and we could ask her to dispense with the usual proscriptions about Jewish life which we would not be following and just sounded hypocritical.
2) We did write our own vows which were not clever, or intentionally humorous, but they were heartfelt.
3) We didn’t have a traditional bridal party. We went to our closest friends, and gave each a job. A few were selected to hold the canopy, one gave a reading, one helped officiate. My cousin played the guitar as we walked down the “aisle” which was the space between the rows of chairs on the veranda of the event space.
4) There were no flowers. When my mother-In-law to be, shocked at this, asked Allison what she would be holding as she went down the aisle, she said, “the only thing I want to be holding is Ed’s hand”
5) After the ceremony, everyone went into the space which we populated with small bistro tables. Old habits die hard and people were asking where they should sit. I kept saying “anywhere”.
6) There was no traditional dinner. The wedding took place on a Sunday afternoon. We opted for very high end hors d'oeuvres. My in-laws upon hearing these plans a month earlier, informed the family they should eat before coming to the wedding.
7) No DJ. No band. No dancing. A friend of ours who is a professional pianist plays in cabarets. As a wedding present he offered to provide music during the reception. In addition, our friends, many of whom our musical theatre performers stepped up to sing. So if you walked into this scene, and didn’t know it was a wedding, and it wasn’t 3 o’ clock on a Sunday you would think you walked into a piano bar. With talent. Minus the drunks, with the exception of one of my cousins.
8) We did have a photographer, but at times he got so caught up in the entertainment that he forgot to take pictures. They weren’t good. Amazingly my drunk cousin took great pictures so I could forgive her for her slurred rendition of “I Will Always Love You”.
9) No mother-son dance- my parents were long deceased (sad, but cuts down on the drama). No father-daughter dance. Allison’s parents had long given up on her getting married so they were just glad the wedding was happening.
10) No bouquet/garter throwing. We both find this grotesque.
11) We did have a cake (chocolate/hazelnut-which is apparently, not done but it’s what we like). As a topper on the cake there was an EZ-Pass. Of course everyone was surprised and amused and it gave me the opportunity to tell the story that this was the first gift I ever gave to Allison. It was to make it easier (and less expensive) for her to cross the George Washington Bridge to get to me. I decided to leave out of the story the fact that I hate to drive and I would have given Allison ten EZ passes and a Toyota Camry if it meant I wouldn’t have to drive to central New Jersey.
While I still don’t like going to weddings, I would have been more than happy to have been a guest at mine.