It has been a very long time since I’ve been behind-the-scenes at a wedding. It’s even been a couple of years since I’ve attended a wedding. I’m old enough to have stopped getting invited to baby showers, but no so old that I have friends with children getting married. So, when one of my friends, a successful wedding planner to the upper income set, asked me if I could be part of her “team” at a big society wedding last month I was excited.
My day started out at 11 a.m. Saturday. I was to meet “the team” at the parents of the bride’s (P.O.B.) country club for the bridesmaid luncheon. I was told to wear conservative clothing that was all black and comfortable flats – also black, no jewelry and hair pulled back off my face. I found out from the other team members that this is basic “working a wedding” attire. The goal being that we don’t attract any attention to ourselves and fade into the background like stage hands.
I showed up dressed in my wedding and/or funeral attire and was ready for my assignment. I felt very official when I was given a headset and a clipboard. Lucky me, I got the duty to shadow the M.O.B. (mother-of-the-bride) all day. She seemed like she needed a handler so I was up for it. The M.O.B. was on her fourth mimosa when I arrived and my main job at the bridesmaid luncheon was to make sure she didn’t see her fifth until she got some food into her stomach. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, what kind of mother would get tanked this early on the day her daughter is getting married?” Then, I had the pleasure of meeting the bride.
The M.O.B., female family friends and relatives and the ten bridesmaids were all mingling in one of the country club’s private dining rooms waiting for the bride to make her appearance so lunch could be served. The bride was already 45 minutes late to her own party and the M.O.B. was not amused. She was tipsy and ticked off. I walked over, introduced myself as her faithful servant for the day and offered her a glass of ice tea to replace the mimosa she was sucking down. Score one for me I got her to take the ice tea. It was then that the bride stormed into the dining room. She was a pretty, pretty girl but she set off doppler bitch-dar that could be seen in a three state radius. This was one unhappy bride.
One look at her face and I thought the worse. Did the wedding get called off? Because if the M.O.B. had followed my mother’s wedding handbook that could never happen. Right before my mother took the box of hand addressed, engraved wedding invitations to the post office for my nuptials she told me and my now husband that if we wanted to back out of the wedding now was the time. “This is it. Got cold feet call it off now. Because once I give this box to John Earl at the post office you have to stay married 365 days from when you receive your first wedding gift. That’s not just my rule, it’s Emily Post’s as well. I don’t care if one of you develops a fondness for farm animals or starts having relations with aquatic life you’re staying married. I’ll be damned if my good name will be soiled with a wedding that was a failure to launch.”
My mom can be pretty scary and we both decided no matter if we had second thoughts it would be easier to go through with the wedding than face her fury.
I, along with everybody else, was waiting to see what had the bride in such a foul mood on her big day when her mom stood up and asked with forced politeness where she had been. The bride answered that she was out trying to return the pearl and sapphire earrings the groom had given her as a wedding present at the rehearsal dinner. Her “mood” was because the groom’s wedding present turned out to be “vintage” and couldn’t be returned. Except she spewed out vintage like she was being forced to resister for wedding gifts at Walmart.
Apparently, vintage in this case meant they were “hand me downs” ( the bride’s words not mine) from her very soon to be mother-in-law. Well, that totally got the mother-in-law supremely angry and the grooms sister joined in the pissed off party because she thought the earrings should have been given to her – the daughter – not the daughter-in-law. The mother-in-law shut her daughter up by saying in a stage whisper that you just know she wanted the bride to hear, “They’re not the good pearl earrings so don’t worry about it.”
The bride then declared that she had a hair appointment and would not be staying for the luncheon and stomped out of the room. Oh my. That was not good. Not good at all. All brides need to exhibit some grace under pressure and even more importantly it’s never too early to NOT let your future mother in law get the upper hand. The lunch continued with polite chatter and silent texting, but you could tell it couldn’t be over soon enough for all the guests.
The wedding planner team stayed behind after the bridesmaid luncheon to make sure the reception set up was going smoothly in the ballroom. I asked my friend if the little scene we had witnessed was standard issue for weddings these days. Sadly, she replied, it was. She blames the media. I can totally see why. Back in the day when I got married there were only two magazine Brides and Modern Bride. Oh, how I lusted after a Priscilla of Boston wedding gown. My mom shot that dream down fast. She said I could have that dress and a wedding on the courthouse steps or I could lower my expectations and have an actual wedding in a non designer dress.
Then in the 90’s Martha Stewart’s entered the fray showcasing gorgeous weddings most mortals could never attain and Vera Wang showed up with her $20,000 plus wedding gowns. Now, there’s just not wedding reality TV shows, there’s reality TV shows about wedding cakes, wedding dresses and wedding dances. Let’s face it the wedding is suffering from over exposure and the 21st century bride is suffering from unrealistic expectations.
It’s a wedding not a circus designed to bankrupt the bride’s parents. And while I’m at it – who’s the marketing genius that started the second dress trend? It’s not enough to drop thousands of dollars on one wedding dress. Now, it’s di rigueur to buy two gowns. One for the ceremony and one for the reception. If I was a mother who was out wedding dress shopping and my daughter pulled that I swear I would spank her in the store. That’s right, flip her over my knees and just beat that greed right out of her. As mothers we need to form a united front (M.A.S.D. Mothers Against Second Dresses) and stop this trend – now!
After overseeing the reception set up the “team” moves to the church – ceremony central – to supervise the dressing of the wedding party and make sure everything is in place from the preacher to the flowers. I was sent to babysit the M.O.B. She was in the brides dressing room and champagne was flowing freely. I tentatively mentioned that everyone in the room has an aisle to gracefully walk down. One tanked bridesmaid shouts,”It’s not a perp walk grandma” and then laughs hysterically.
Grandma, that really had me steamed. I’m so not a grandma. While I’m contemplating my revenge against that bridesmaid I noticed other young and not so young ladies getting a needle in the face. Allergy shots I’m thinking. How unusual. Ick. No. It’s bridal botox! Good Lord, I have been out of the bridal scene for a long time if they progressed to getting a little face work done 30 minutes before you say “I do.” Some of the woman taking the botox needle are in their 20’s. Who has wrinkles in their 20’s? I tell you who. No one. So why are they filing their foreheads with poison. What happened to the group prayer before you walked down the aisle? Now it’s the botulism huddle.
As I stand mesmerized watching women jockey for position, “me next, me next” in the botox corner of the room. I get hit in the head with a $200 Mason Pearson boar bristle hairbrush (that just for the record cost more than my wedding dress twenty something years ago). Ouch. I was in the bride’s line of fire. She was going ballistic over her “up do.” Totally, cuckoo. She’s pulling out the bobby pins and chucking them and it looks like she’s going to take the end of the rat-tail comb to gouge out the eyes of the stylist.
While, still rubbing the left side of my skull I go over and throw myself in front of the hairdresser and asked the bride to take a few cleansing breathes and let her hair guy give the up do another try. She then starts crying and cursing. Really bad curse words too. The ones you don’t hear very often. That in turn has the make up lady throwing a hissy fit because there goes the face paint and she doesn’t have time to start over. I look over at the M.O.B. for some leadership and she just throws back another flute of champagne. I know when I’m beat so I press the button of my headset that calls for help and mercifully, my friend, the professional rushes in to try to restore order.
The make up lady is given more money to stay and fix the brides face, the stylist is also offered more cash to try, once again, for the perfect up do and I’m instructed to clear the room of all alcohol. I start hauling off bottles of champagne and replace them with bottled water. I then sit down next to the M.O.B. and try to get her to eat a Power Bar I had in my purse. That’s when the story of the fairy tale wedding that went south starts. For all mothers with young daughters this is a cautionary tale we should learn from.
It all started out innocently enough. A hard-working couple raises a daughter, tries to give her all the little things her heart desires but the more they give the more she wants. Now, the daughter is grown up and falls in love. She wants a princess wedding. A day no one will ever forget. But, nothing makes the daughter happy. Not a wedding dress that costs more than a car. Not even a boob job so her wedding dress will, in her eyes, look even better. Nothing is good or perfect enough. Now, as the wedding is a mere moments away the bride gets gloomier and gloomier and the M.O.B. in her own words is, “Counting down the minutes until her daughter’s happiness is somebody else’s problem.” Yikes!
Uh oh, the satan in satin, that is the bride, is still not happy. This time her fury is directed at a bridesmaid. “What’s up?” I think. The bridesmaid looks beautiful. Ohhhh, that’s the problem the bride thinks her “lady in waiting” will steal the show. No way! The bride starts telling her almost sister-in-law she can’t be in the wedding 10 minutes before the ceremony is about to begin. Once again, I look over to the M.O.B. for some kind of direction. She’s got nothing. I butt in and sweetly tell the bride that it’s too late in the game to rearrange bridesmaids. The whole count of the wedding will be off. That doesn’t work. So, I ask the bride if the offending bridesmaid will wipe off some of her makeup, hoist up the bust portion of her dress and pull back her long, sexy hair into a “frump do” will that do the trick to get her “back in the wedding?” She reluctantly agrees.
I take the bridesmaid to the other side of the room, tell her lay low, not alter her appearance in any way and then stealthy get into the line up right before the music starts. Praise be to the marriage muse, the bridal procession music begins and yay, everyone is ready to walk down the aisle.
Problem. Out of the ten bridesmaid, half have been drinking heavily. When I thought I had cleared the room of alcohol some of the young “ladies” had been sneaking tequila shots. Walking was going to be a problem. It was going to be more like swaying down the aisle. My friend, the wedding professional, says there nothing we can do but send them down the “runway” and hope for the best. It’s not like you can postpone a wedding until the bridal party sobers up.
At least the MOB had made it without incident to her place of honor in the front pew. Music swells and we send the girls down the aisle. Opps, the bridesmaid who made the “grandma” comment is experiencing technical difficulty with the whole walking upright thing. She sways to the right, she swings back to the center, sways again and then starts falling. She grabs a fistful of the bridesmaid dress in front of her to stop her fall, taking that bridesmaid tumbling down with her, now the bridesmaid behind her gets tripped up and she’s going down. (Thud, clunk and insert curse word of your choice here.) It looks like a WWF bout in princess pink taffeta. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s three down, seven still standing. My friend gets me and two other “team members.” We walk quickly down the aisle, pick up the three downed bridesmaids, hand them off to “team members” who take them to the back of the church and direct the seven remaining to finish their trip to the altar. At the back of the church we fuss with the bridesmaid dresses, and give them a second try at walking. Finally, with a little swaying, but no falling all 10 bridesmaid make the journey safely to the altar.
Now, it’s the bride’s turn. Due to my friends experienced judgement the bride was kept in the church foyer while the bridesmaid debacle happened so she has no idea of the melee that proceeded her aisle journey. Four “team members” are there to send the bride and her father on their way. The bride instead of looking excited, serene, nervous, joyful or a combination there of looks in a word – angry. Her dad should be the angry one. He’s dropping major cash on this happy day and his daughter looks like she’s itching for a bar fight. (Once again, proving the adage that money can’t buy happiness.) The duo makes their way to the altar, the dad quickly and eagerly hands his daughter to the groom, (yes, it does seem like he is also very excited to get her off his hands literally) and then the wedding couple finishes the journey up the steps to the minister.
As the minister begins with his “dearly beloved” the bride, looks up the groom, gazes into his eyes, looks down and then throws up on her soon-to-be spouse’s shoes. Yuck. That’s when the M.O.B. breaks the silence with hysterical laughter, accompanied by hiccups that echo eerily through the sanctuary. The groom cusses, the bride cries, and a bridesmaid falls – again. I look up towards the heavens and praise God in his infinite wisdom for not making me a wedding planner.