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RSVPhillippi | January 2020

 
Dennis Phillippi

DEARLY BELOVED, AND OTHERS

This is one of my favorite issues of RSVP every year, because I love weddings. Maybe that sounds strange coming from a guy, but over the last three and a half decades of being married to my wife, we have gone to dozens and dozens of weddings and we always enjoy them. We sit there holding hands, touching our wedding rings together, and revel in all the joy of people uniting in wedded bliss.  Granted in some cases the bliss didn’t even last until the end of the reception, but the ceremonies were always very sweet.

Our own wedding was a very small affair. For over a year I had been badgering my wife to marry me, since the night we met in fact, and suddenly out of the blue, just before we were scheduled to go to my family reunion she relented. I say relented as if I asked yet another time and she finally said yes. But what happened was she suggested, out of nowhere, that we get married on the Sunday before we were going to leave for the reunion. After months and months of me asking, she did the real proposing. It went something like this; Her, “Hey why don’t we get married the Sunday before your reunion?”  Me, “Uh…okay.” It was all very romantic. I’m pretty sure it happened during a Cardinals game. Not like on the scoreboard at a game we were attending, we were just watching a baseball game on TV. I don’t remember her even looking away from the game. Maybe she was inspired by a Kiss Cam or something. Like I said, it was all very romantic.

The wedding itself, on my wife’s suggestion, was held in the living room of her parents’ modest house. There were maybe 30 people packed into a room the size of a spacious prison cell, baking under the hot lights of my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s video camera. I had a Best Man, she had a Matron of Honor, and we had never met the minister and have never seen him again. Watching the tape, the entire ceremony didn’t crack seven minutes. It was as fast and efficient as buying a pair of socks. The reception also took place at her parents’ house, her Southern Baptist parents. There was punch.  There was no dancing. Not because of religious reasons, there simply wasn’t room. That, and we couldn’t have afforded a band if we wanted one. Over the years we attended much, much larger weddings, but none as sweet.

Not that we mind a little spectacle. If you’re going to go with pomp, I say throw in as much circumstance as you can muster. It’s fun to see a huge wedding party — some bride who insisted on having eight bridesmaids, forcing her new husband to hustle up eight guys that could all afford to rent a tuxedo. No guy has eight friends he likes enough to have in his wedding. I’m not sure if I even had eight male friends when we got married.

Now lately, because of the social media, we’re constantly seeing stories of women, and I’m sorry but it does genuinely seem to always be women, that are outed online for trying to insist that members of the wedding party shell out enormous amounts of money to get exactly the things that the wedding planner envisioned, even if that means $1,500 shoes. I haven’t spent $1,500 on shoes in my entire lifetime. There are stories all the time about people who have tried to group fund their extravagant weddings. It’s enough that you’re making me show up, but you also want me to kick in a few bucks so you can have a champagne fountain? That is a hard pass. There have been reports of some couples who successfully raised the greenbacks to have their wedding, then decided to pocket the dough and skip the big wedding altogether. I know a lot of guys who would happily donate money to not go to a wedding, but I’m not one of them. I already spent more than I wanted to on your stupid china place setting, I better get a show.

And like I said, we like the show. We like watching the wedding party file up front in their rented clothes, the groom standing there not knowing what to do with his hands. Then the big entrance where we all stand and crane our necks to watch the bride walk shakily down the aisle beside her father, shooting glances at the courtside seats as she makes her way to the altar. My wife and I enjoy the exchanging of vows, always waiting to see if someone has been stupid enough to leave in the “obey” part, which has happened at least a half dozen times. We have waited for that one time when someone actually does have an objection to this union and does not forever hold their peace, but it hasn’t happened yet. I really want to be there for the moment when some former lover stands up drunkenly and tries to put the brakes on the whole event.

Oddly, the only part of weddings I don’t particularly enjoy are the receptions. Once the attention has been drawn away from the bride and groom, who are busy posing for pictures they will hardly ever look at again, we realize we’re in a large room with a lot of people we mostly don’t know. At any given wedding we might know a handful of the attendees, but we certainly don’t know the extended families of the recently wed couple, and I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to strike up a conversation with the groom’s great aunt. She probably has no idea what the score is in whatever game I’m missing by being at this hootenanny, which is all I’m thinking about. Instead my wife always insists we stay until they cut the cake. I don’t know why. She doesn’t even like cake.