The Burgers were Sublime, by Brunonia Barry
I hate weddings. Anyone who knows me considers this to be one of my quirks, but it is far more than that. It’s bad enough that a woman has to walk down the aisle only to be “given away” (thank God many have dispensed with this women as chattel tradition), but what’s even worse is that, by the time the big day arrives, the bride bears little resemblance to her former rational self. Seldom does she even remember the event, it passes in such a hurried blur, and often she has to rely on the videos and photographs and her friends’ face book postings to tell her how much “fun” she had.
As a former marketing person, I am amazed that women are still buying the dream, believing that, for one day in their lives, they can play the part of princess. Of course, if the families of the bride are indulgent, this period can last much longer than one day, sometimes for a full year if the bride plays her cards right. Call me a frugal Yankee, but every time I attend one of these competitive social events, I start calculating the expense, and seldom do I come up with anything less than a good down payment on a starter home, and a few that have equaled the full price of a one bedroom condo. What are parents thinking? Why don’t they just insist that the couple take the money instead? And even if the bride can expect the wedding guests to cough up thousands of dollars for those gifts she registered for (a lot to ask in these desperate days) does she really believe that a dozen William Henry steak knives will get the couple through that first rough patch? All right, maybe that was the wrong image, steak knives might be quite useful during a rough patch but never in a good way.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of marriage. It’s just that I think the wedding industry is making suckers of us all. And don't even get me started on the destination wedding.
The most luxurious wedding I ever attended was at the Wrigley mansion on Santa Catalina Island when I was living in LA. The bride was a beautiful former actress, the groom a prominent psychiatrist. The food was great, the guest list impressive, and the music sublime. During the toast, one of my dear friends leaned over to me and whispered, “I’ll give them six months.” My friend was wrong, of course. The marriage lasted almost a year.
Now at this point, those who know me would point out that all this is very easy for me to say, since I had the big wedding and became princess for a day at a candlelight ceremony with two hundred of my “closest friends” attending. It’s true. But for God’s sake I was twenty-two years old at the time and recovering from a college-induced nervous breakdown. I had no business marrying anyone. But the night was beautiful, the music, if not sublime, was at least memorable (show tunes performed by my musical comedy actor friends). Of course I didn't remember any of it and had to rely on the video and photos. Alas, there was no Facebook back then. The marriage lasted almost ten years, due mostly to the fact that I lived in California for the duration, while he stayed in New York.
There is one detail that I do remember about the wedding and one for which I really should apologize. I dressed my bridesmaids in purple satin. I know that a wedding is a great opportunity to dress your best friends and sisters in the worst outfits you can find, but I honestly thought purple satin was beautiful. I have since found out how much my bridesmaids hated these outfits, the one element of the day upon which they were in complete agreement. In the last several years, I have seen some of the worst dress styles and color combinations on girls who have not otherwise had an ugly day in their lives. This takes dedication and perseverance on the bride’s part, and I have to give credit where credit is due.
Some brides think it's a personal affront if the weather doesn't cooperate on their big day. Rain isn’t auspicious, it causes the hair to frizz. I don't even want to talk about heat. Posing for photos in the heat with your face melting into your décolletage (thank you for that image Samantha Jones) is the worst! I went to a wedding at the Brentwood Country Club in LA that was so hot that several menopausal women including the bride’s mother ditched the reception in favor of a swim in the pool. The bride was less than pleased.
Speaking of inauspicious weather, my first wedding (New England, December, what was I thinking?) ended in an ice storm that kept our guests from leaving town for three whole days. Hmm. I should have paid attention.
That said, there are two weddings I have really enjoyed, my second one and one that I attended last weekend.
My second wedding, and the marriage that has lasted (knocking on wood as I write), started on a warm and sunny November day in Las Vegas. Ours was a destination wedding of sorts, but we were the only ones required to attend. We spent the night before in our hotel room looking through the yellow pages for some kind of chapel that would suit us, rejecting several Elvis themes and a helicopter wedding in favor of a drive-through service. Now you have to understand that, as LA people, we did a lot of drive-through, from banking and burgers to our local food and liquor store. We love drive-through. We are comfortable with it. When we read that A Little White Chapel offered a drive-through ceremony, we were overjoyed. We drove right on over. I imagine the society column write-up we might have had: “The groom wore jeans, the bride wore sweats.” (Actually it was a cute little aerobic outfit, but that caption doesn’t read as well). I remember my only disappointment was that I wanted to rent (or buy or borrow) a veil. I thought that would be a good contrast to my sweats, but they didn't sell veils, so I settled for a blue garter which I wore as a headband and which probably worked better with my outfit anyway. We were married by a woman named Reverend Sandy. We bought the video. Afterward, to continue the theme, we hosted our reception at the drive through window of In And Out Burger. Go ahead, laugh if you want, but they have just about the best burgers anywhere. Later we stopped at a supermarket and bought some cake and champagne. And guess what? The marriage has lasted. (Again, I’m knocking on wood). We’ve been together for 30 years and counting.
The wedding I attended last weekend, though not a drive-through, was one I thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe it’s not fair to call it a wedding. Rather it was a party held several months after the couple were wisely married at the Marblehead, MA town hall. They held off on the party until summer when they knew many of their friends and family would be around, and then, very smartly, they held it at the beach. And though it was 90 plus degrees outside with a humidity level of 70%, the bride was radiant in her sundress. And the groom, who used to be a chef, helped grill our dinners while we all watched as the sun set over the harbor (I’m revising a bit. It set over land, we are on the east coast now after all, but it was still a beautiful sunset). An hour later, the guests were impressed by the show of fireworks that painted the sky (this time over the water). They all marveled not only at the spectacle but at the wedding budget, murmuring their approval to each other. Some things never change, I guess. Those of us who are local never told them that the fireworks were coming from another wedding reception being held at the same time across the causeway on Marblehead Neck, for Peter Lynch’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her French Count. The rumored budget was not to be believed, so I won’t repeat it, but let me just say that we are far beyond one bedroom condos here. Those of us who are local congratulated ourselves that we were attending this fun wedding, and not the much stuffier one across the causeway, though we will admit to craning our necks to get a glimpse when the wedding party passed us en route to their reception. Each of us would have certainly refused their invitation, had it been proffered, in favor of our friends Dave and Emily and their happily every after wedding celebration.
The hot dogs were great, the macaroni salad impressive, and the burgers were sublime.