Updated: Apr 26, 2021
I can't hide it. Weddings really touch a nerve with me, a sore spot. There is nothing I dread more than that wedding invitation arriving through the mailbox. In our house, they are generally as welcome as a family of rodents (which we've had on a few occasions). In fact, I think I would rather spend a night in jail than attend a wedding where I know practically no-one (slight exaggeration, and please not in a maximum-security prison).
Now do not get me wrong, I'm ok with the part of people (foolishly?) falling in love and wanting every single person they've ever met to join them in a massive celebration to tell them how amazing they are. To listen to speeches about how they make the perfect couple, to have the bride and groom inform us that their marriage will be different than the others that end up miserable or divorced, because they are true “soulmates” (you do realize there are over 8 billion people on the planet, right?)
Can someone please tell me why wedding speeches end up being so damn dramatic, at times bordering on sounding obituary-like? And is it really necessary for the best man to mock the groom in front of friends and family, with inappropriate stories about his past (say X-rated ones) as they all try and decode these grotesque innuendos, except for a privy few who sit there laughing like hyenas...?
So you see, it's really not very easy being a guest at a wedding, especially when this isn't, shall we say, your first rodeo, when you've become a seasoned veteran.
The evening of course typically starts by the walk-up to the bride and groom, often who you happen to know very little, and then having to shower them and their wedding party (who you know even less) with compliments. Get ready to put on that massive Ronald McDonald smiley face and tell them how overjoyed you are for them, how they truly have made your day, even your year (you gotta stretch it). How you wish for them to have a wonderful life together, although you are secretly anticipating a separation within 2 years, at best. Speaking of which, should there not be some sort of a refund policy, you know, a money back guarantee like with everything else, for those marriages that barely last a honeymoon or even a few measly months?
I think most of us would agree there is usually a silver lining to every miserable experience: for some wedding attendees, its usually those ginormous buffets. Especially at the Italian weddings where food will be plentiful. But also where everyone is really in a competition of some sorts. I mean, you gave the couple a wad of cash (hey, Italians don't give pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, or offer paintings from the 1800s) and, well, you expect that in return, you will get to leave the joint stuffed like a Butterball turkey. You’d better get your money's worth (or else what, take your money back?). And a race therefore ensues, not only to the buffet table, but also once you are back at your table, to see how fast you can chow down that grub, upon which you can proceed to head back in line again, and do another one of your Joey-Chestnut-at-a-hot-dog-eating-contest impressions.
But if it so happens that a buffet is not being offered, well then rest assured: you can put away your running shoes. You are one of the lucky few- you've probably been invited to one of those 9-course meal eating marathons (or is it 10 these days- I think the sorbet served in a baby spoon counts as one). You know the classic “meals-on-wheels” where they come every 15 minutes and fill your plate with more goo. And of course, there's always the one at your table, trying to play food critic and comment on what's served in front of them- what were they expecting 5-star French cuisine? It's a g'dam wedding hall, they're there to force-feed you like geese at a foie-gras farm factory, not to share their culinary expertise.
By the end of the third or fourth (course) round, even Rocky would be down for the count, given the portion sizes, the bread, and the appetizers that were gulfed down during cocktail hour. By the way- just a thought here- should they not offer pull-out mattresses or something, given that by 10 pm most will be so full they can hardly sit upright? You know, around the time when you are ready for some shut-eye and the DJ starts yelling like a deranged lunatic, begging you to move over to the dance floor to join Barbie and Ken. Yeah, sure, okay, but can you please pick me up in a wheelbarrow while you’re at it? (hint: this is when it's time to head to the bar for some vodka or tequila shots and an espresso or three, because the night is truly just beginning)
As far as the open bar, most guests really aren’t that picky. Here again, quantity trumps quality. Especially when it comes to the wine. For most of the elders at least, kitchen vinegar will do just fine. You can honestly get by on offering an 8$ bottle of Italian wine (which in Italy would be used to disinfect the floors, but whatever). You see, the elders have it all figured out: get intoxicated as quickly as possible so that they won’t have to converse with their spouses, the closer they get to snoozing at the table. The younger folks, too, are also all about simplicity, and come with a clear purpose: lining up shots, one after the other, so that they may drown the stark reality that their own weddings, what, a mere one or two years in, didn't turn out to be like a Disney fairy-tale.
Either way, a few shots in, and these champs will be ready to hit the dance floor, to bust out their Herbie Hancock 80s-style breakdancing moves, belting out from the top of their cigar-infested lungs, the ever so intricate lyrics from songs like Y M C A or We Are Family (I got all my sisters with me), thinking all the while that everyone is staring at them and being wowed by their exotic moves. Chug chug chug keep on chugging there pal....fake it till you make it.
Eventually, around the end of the 9th round, once the seniors are all lying face-down on their tables, an announcement will be made to head on over to the midnight buffet, where zombie upon zombie will proceed to walk on over, hands extended in front of them and load up on anything from crab legs to Italian lemon drop cookies. Slowly thereafter they will fizzle out again, but surely this time they will be down for the count.
Ah! The joys of attending a wedding! But rest assured, when it comes to this old sucker, from now on, a lesson has been learned: the only way I'm coming to your wedding is if YOU get ME a gift.