THE WEDDING

A BACHELOR’S VIEWPOINT:. I don't like weddings. I didn't even care for my own wedding. Being a practical person, it seems to me like a lot of money to spend celebrating something that probably won't last all that long. A recent wedding, which a close friend of mine attended, provides a good example. This wedding took place at a cathedral where the happy couple was married by a Catholic bishop. To facilitate the wedding ceremony a full orchestra, a large chorus, and a couple of opera singers from the MET performed.

Three hundred and fifty guests attended the wedding reception, which was held at Rosecliff where “The Great Gatsby” was filmed. At the reception a 28-piece dance band with strings entertained the guests, and the original “Kingston Trio” was flown in for special entertainment. Harps and flutes played in the gardens, and there were cocktails on the beach and non-stop music until midnight while guests partook of lobster and fillet mignon. The following morning there was a private cocktail and buffet cruise of Newport Harbor. Rumor has it that the bride’s father paid $700 per guest for this extravaganza, which comes to the tidy sum of a quarter of a million dollars.

When I get invited to a wedding I usually cringe because it means time and money. It cost my friend two days and $400 to attend the Rosecliff wedding, and that didn’t include the gift. He got off cheap. The last wedding I attended involved airline tickets and cost me five days and $1500, and I didn’t even buy a gift.

Thus my first thought when I’m invited to a wedding is to decline the invitation. Then I wonder about the need to purchase a gift for the bride and groom if I don't attend. Do I spend more on the gift if I go or if I don't go? The etiquette of the whole thing escapes me, but I resent feeling the need to buy a gift just because I was invited. To me, it is the equivalent of buying a gift for a policeman just because he has issued you a ticket inviting you to court.

At most weddings I know very few of the guests. I didn't even know all the guests at my own wedding. Being at a wedding where you don't know anyone except the person who invited you is a lot like being in court. In court you don't know anyone except for the policeman who invited you. Also, people are sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

Weddings are never held near where I live. Like going to court, I always have to drive much further than I would like. And once I get there, I have to stand or sit and wait with a bunch of people I don't know until the bride arrives in her limo and makes her grand entrance. I never see the groom arrive. At this point, grooms are incidental to the process. The groom is usually waiting in some back room as impatiently as I am, except that he is a lot more nervous. And when I enter the church, some guy I don't know always asks me if I am a friend of the bride or a friend of the groom. I like to say "Neither" just to see what he will do. A recent exchange went something like this:

Usher: "Welcome to the ____ and ____ wedding. Are you a friend of the bride or of the groom?"

Me: "I don't like either of them."

Usher: silence... "Would you like to sit on the side with the bride's friends or on the side with the groom's friends?"

Me: "I don't care."

Usher: "How about the groom's side?" (I guess he didn't understand "I don't care.")

Me: "Put me where the good looking single women are."

The usher looks around briefly and sees none, but from the back of a church, it is an almost impossible task to spot attractive single women.

Me: "I'll sit right here close to the door."

I did go to a wedding once where I didn't know the bride or the groom. I was a friend of the priest who was performing his first wedding.

Some wedding services seem to last longer than my marriage did. In India weddings can last for several days. I'm not sure what arrangements are made for the participants. I try to avoid the "full mass" weddings and just show up for the reception. A secondary benefit of this strategy is that you avoid the frustration of the long delay between the wedding and the reception. The most recent wedding I attended had a three-hour wait. Some people went and got pizza. I fasted so that I could eat more at the reception.

Fancy wedding receptions have many kinds of hors d'oeuvres that you can fill up on while waiting for the bride and groom to have all of their photographs taken. I usually find these hors d'oeuvres to be much better than the dinner – and there is certainly more variety. I find that the fewer people I know, the more I tend to eat. I'm usually stuffed by the time dinner is served, and I find myself staring at a chicken that lost its life for nothing.

Most of the receptions I've attended have music that I don't like at sound levels that seem to be the audio equivalent of force-feeding. The only saving grace is that it prevents me from making small talk to people I don't want to know. I've sat for hours with people I don't know and left still not knowing them. I make frequent trips to the men's room and to the parking lot for fresh air and silence. The only people I have met at weddings I’ve met in lobbies and parking lots.

Except for my own wedding, I've never attended a wedding where they did not toss the bridal bouquet and the garter - unless you count the wedding in Reno where I was best man at Cupid's Chapel of Love. There were only six people at that wedding, counting the bride and the groom. I was wearing ski pants. I count that as one of my favorite weddings of all times. We all rode in a limousine to the courthouse and back.

The most recent wedding reception I attended was actually the best, and certainly the fanciest, the largest and the most expensive I’ve attended. Mom and Dad could have traveled around the world for what that wedding cost. It was probably best because of that and the fact that I was sitting with fun-loving people and two bottles of wine. I knew the bride better than anyone there except the groom (ahem), and the woman next to me was a beautiful, young, single blonde female who I would have married in a heart beat. Fortunately for both of us, I skipped the church ceremonies, so we didn't meet until three hours later.

I still don't like weddings, but I'm starting to feel better about receptions. It's just a shame that there aren't divorce receptions. Instead of the garter and bouquet toss, there could be a ring toss - and I could have a shot at going home with the bride.

• • •

Note: The photo is of Dina and Kirk at their wedding - which is the one I mention as being the best. (Hi Dina!) It is also the same wedding as the one in the story "Dancing".


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