I’ve never cared much for weddings. I don’t cry when couples exchange their vows, or when the bride comes down the aisle, or at any of the typical moments when it’s appropriate to show sappy emotion. I’ve only been to 5 weddings in my entire life (including my own), and 3 of those have sucked big time. My wedding, unfortunately, was included in that sucky 3.
So when we were invited to a wedding yesterday (2-14…how original!), I was hardly in the mood to go. But the groom was a good friend of my husband’s and his mom was well respected, so I felt obliged to make an appearance.
Let me just be plain: I HATE going to Christian weddings. I’ve been saved 11+ years now, so I don’t know if this brand of folks are Evangelical, Charismatic, Orthodox or what, but the 3 sucky weddings I attended (included my own) were all members of my church. The folks who got married used to attend our church as well, so I had a good idea of what to expect: dignity, comportment and boredom. Boy was I wrong!
The wedding took place outside, on an usually cold February day. There was snow on the ground and Father Winter blew gusty winds to ensure every guest had a chill in their bones. The wedding party marched down the aisle as though it was a beautiful Spring day. I admired their pluck. After the exchanging of very sweet vows that the couple had written themselves, we were instructed to enter the building post haste, because we were on a tight schedule. I’ve never seen Black people move that fast!
“This poor couple,” I thought, as we were served puff pastries. “They can only afford h’ors deurves for their guests.” I ate as many as I could in anticipation that we’d have to vacate the premises within the hour. I looked around and saw grabby Black folk thinking and doing the same. Wrong again! We were summoned by a chime to indicate that it was time to go upstairs. Upstairs for what? For a brilliant reception, that’s what! The bride had chosen a luminous shade of blue to accent the standard white chair covers, and the center pieces could only be described as romantic. Everyone knows people only go to weddings for the reception, and the bride set the tone when it was announced that this as a celebration, and that she was going to be very upset if she didn’t see people on the dance floor! Now that’s what I’m talking about! The dj was nothing short of a master, skillfully blending the best of old school with new. I would have loved to join the young ones on the floor, but I had pregnancy gas and was certain I could clear the floor if I let a silent one loose. So I was happy to dance in my chair…far in the corner of the hall.
I watched the bride and groom dance joyfully, their family and friends joining in. Their wedding was a success because they had made it their own. I wondered if they’d had to face any of the compromises and criticisms I had to during my own wedding plans. Hmmmmm….
*Insert sparkly dream dust here*
My wedding sucked because NOTHING went according to my desires/plans. My brides maids got to wear saris, and it’s a wonder I even got away with that. Ever since coming to America, I’d always dreamed of being serenaded to “She’s your Queen to be” while coming down the aisle. Marshall dashed those hopes when he said he would never let that happen.
“You can have your brother sing it at the reception though.”
But the “dj” (whom I had NOT hired to play for our wedding) would not hand him over the mic.
A friend of mine came all the way in from NY to play hip-life for the reception. As I waited patiently for a switch from the boring traditional jazz this guy had been playing all afternoon, I saw Eugene walk over with his laptop to indicate he was ready. Mr Old Head dj shook his head and informed him he was the maestro for the event. Eugene sat down, and so did the rest of us. My very boisterous aunt from Detroit loudly proclaimed that she had some liquor and Tahitian grooves in the car and that she was ready to get this party started! My best friend who’d come in from London said “Why don’t we move of these tables and chairs so that we could dance!” I sat sullenly, trying to look happy, but all I could think of was the series of “nos” I’d suffered through during the planning of this sham.
No, I could not have a water fight after my reception
No, I could not have a bar-b-que instead of a standard reception with white linens and white chairs.
No, I could not have any contemporary music played at the reception, because my husband was a deacon.
No, we will not have a first dance.
No, there will be no father-daughter, mother-son dance either.
No, you cannot play “Ribbon in the Sky” because Stevie Wonder is not saved.
No, you cannot have Chinese acrobats perform at the reception because we cannot afford or find them.
By the time it was 2:30, I was ready to leave my own wedding because even I was bored! I felt sad for my guests who had traveled from London, Ghana, Ohio, DC and Michigan to participate in butt-glued-to-your seat event. The only folks who seemed happy with the whole dignified event were my husband, his mom, and the church leaders whom I felt were there to make sure nothing got out of hand. I could have said my vows and gone home afterward. I wasn’t needed there.
If it sounds like I’m bitter, I AM. Five years later, and all I can recall from my wedding is the disappointment and the need to flee when it was all over. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but my wedding day was not the “happiest” day of my life. My marriage has been great, but the wedding sucked.