It’s no secret, Gentle Reader, that I used to plan and perform weddings – after all, I am a Reverend Doctor, two perfectly legal titles that I picked up for a song. As a sort of an extension of the Fabulous Party Association, we’d consult, plan, cater, decorate, perform, and do clean-up for small weddings.
Working a wedding is terrible, folks. Be sure to be very kind to the staff at the next one you attend.
The first wedding I performed that stands out was for Jemilly and S. They had been dating for years, and were finally ready to tie the knot. I took care of renting the hall and preparing for the reception, although honestly, I wasn’t their biggest fan. They were to have the ceremony elsewhere while we were setting up.
Of course, you have a limited amount of time at any venue. Food was being cooked, the florist was unloading these enormous pots of flowers (with heart-shaped trellises), the band hadn’t yet arrived to set up – I was arranging the dining area, and hadn’t even begun decorating. Amid all this, if you can name something associated with a large party, it went wrong. The cook sliced his hand open. The flower arrangements had fallen and half of the blooms had gotten crushed en route. The bride called twice to cancel – and twice to say that the wedding was still on.
When the cake arrived – three tiers – without incident, we were ecstatic. It got dropped between the car and the kitchen. Auntie R. swiftly took care of it, using bits from the ruined floral arrangements to cover the scrapes and flaws in the frosting.
That’s when the guests turned up, three hours early.
Miss K. brought the secret staff stash of whiskey around. Once my veins stopped throbbing, I sent her to head them off while I returned to decorating. Along the colonade, I had to do one armed pull ups and staple dramatic arches of tulle down the line.
The bridal party arrived: we allowed the guests to enter, finally. While serving the meal, champagne, and so on, no one noticed anything out of place. As far as they were concerned, everything had gone off without a hitch.
At another wedding for the same circle, we were subcontracted to handle just the catering. Everything seemed on the up and up during the consultations, and, indeed, up to the point that we arrived at the church – which, I might add, looked like a cross between an airport waiting lounge and a middle-school cafeteria.
It turns out that the bride – whose sole responsibility was to book the hall, as she was paying for it with credit – had not booked the hall. Auntie R., who had done the planning, quietly pulled some strings to allow us access; those strings did not allow us the use of the onsite kitchen.
Um. Auntie R. had quite enough other fires to be putting out at that point – the minister was an hour late, and on and on – so we found a cafe-looking area and set up our equipment. With no running water or trash facilities, or indeed a prep area not intended for serving later, we made a decent spread for 200 people. Clean-up, of course, was delayed, because the guests wouldn’t leave until the time that the church was supposed to be locked up and inspected. The bride was charged extra for that, but since she hadn’t payed in the first place, what did she care? Since we’d subcontracted, and Auntie R. had had to use his part of the fee to pay the hall, he actually chased down the father of the groom and an accommodating brother-in-law to get us our money. I don’t think that he ever saw a dime of his fee, poor bastard.
The Colonel’s wedding was quite a lot of fun to set up for; it was steam-punk themed, and we turned one of those Costco garages into the interior of an airship, complete with tickets to be punched at the boarding ramp. Besides the ordinary pressure of setting up a venue – essentially, you wind everyone’s nerves to breaking point so that beauty can come out – and a few “bridezilla” moments wherein the Colonel smashed some valuable equipment – things went off without a hitch. That is to say, they got hitched, but without incident, I ought to say.
I’m trying to illustrate all the behind-the-scenes things that make working a wedding horrible, and not doing it justice. I guess when you’re right in the thick of it, the heat of the moment, everyone’s riding right on the edge of their nerves and holding on for dear life. Stress is ramped past overdrive to the points where break-downs happen, and that’s what makes the weddings turn out successfully.
My cousin’s wedding is next week, and I can’t remember the last time I was only a guest a wedding. I really don’t know what I’ll do; they’re terribly dull, from the other side. I intend to scandalize the family*, as per usual.
I’m working a wedding the weekend after that, and I expect a fair bit of drama. After all, that’s what makes it fun.
*I tend to scandalize that side of the family. My mother’s side, I mean – my behavior is normal on my dad’s side. Well, more normal. My mother used to scandalize her relations, when she was young; she has grown more like them over the years. The trouble is, I try to behave, without compromising who I am or what I believe. This leads to scandal. It’s a vicious circle, and how my uncle and I almost came to blows way back in Post the Second.