Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Summer Nuptial Etiquette

It's the most wonderful time of the year. For caterers, florists, tux rentors—the whole lot of them.

Having attended a few weddings in my day—two of them my own in fact, and having played at a slew of others, I have gleaned quite a bit of knowledge in this area. So in the true May Days Essays spirit of spreading sweetness, light, AND knowledge (along with Oxford commas) to my throng of illuminated readers, I offer these hints and tips ...

Guys, your sig oth will probably need (or better-put, want) a dress. But it is inevitable that new shoes will be involved. If she drags you out for such a shopping trip, make sure there is a bar conveniently located in the mall or shopping area. That's your best bet.

And gals, if you're thinking about tucking that price tag back inside the dress and returning it after the bash, this is really bad form.

Guys, find your tie and make sure it doesn't have any sour cream stains from the last wedding. You might want to iron it. Or hit up Goodwill for a new one—without the knights' heads on it. Bear in mind that the pockets and pleats of your new suit will be basted shut. Don't use your Buck knife. And if you think those old, clunky Frye boots are also dress shoes, think again.

A church is a place where people go to worship God, sing songs, smell incense and toss money in the basket. In case you've forgotten.

At the reception, attend to the most important matter first: the open bar. Find out if they shut down the bar during dinner, and be prepared to stock up. Stand near the kitchen during passed hors d'oeuvres so as to get first dibs on the shrimp ... or else you're stuck with the teeny weenies.

Don't count on decent wine; the barkeep probably lost his corkscrew during The Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid. Bring a flask, if you must. PLUS, find out if there's a cutoff time for said bar. At one steamy summer wedding, I saw the father of the bride ixnay the bar just as the band finished a dance set. On top of this, the venue had no accommodations for a cash bar, so you had plenty of sweaty, parched, irate guests. Not pretty. Nor was the weeping bride when folks fled the site with a good two hours left in the shindig.

Yes, expect the Chicken Football in the Foil Boat for your scrumptious entrée. Along with a soggy spud and the mandatory green beans amandine. That neon-orange stuff is Catalina dressing. Your best bet: Disentomb the pullet surprise from its vessel and pour out the fowl effluvia that lies festering in its bottom. When tablemates are not looking, dot the tub o' I Can't Believe That People Call This Butter with your almonds.

If there's a band, cool. If it's the Tony Sciavacci Accordionnaires, not so cool. Do not request "Big Wheels" when you mean "Proud Mary." If there's a sax player, do NOT say, "Hey man, you sound like Clarence Clemons." If you're the Frye-boot guy, rest assured you will not hear anything by MetalVöid. And if you're the hairy-legged, paisley-skirted, Birkenstocked bride's cousin from Vermont who does Venusian pottery, no Phish for you.

But DO make friends with the band. Then you can hang with them out by their cars during the breaks. Tell them how much you like Steely Dan or John Coltrane, and they're likely to pass you that Jack or blunt, to be blunt. Prime time for this is during Aunt Phyllis' speech or when cousin Dullard gets up with his acoustic guitar for a trenchant Cat Stevens medley.

If you're stuck with DJs, let them brag about how they have every song known to humankind. Then request King Crimson's "Return of the Fire Witch and Dance of the Wooden Puppets."

I'm not saying there isn't fun to be had. When I was a kid, I knew grown-ups had a happy-time signal, when all women removed their footgear. This still holds true. Time to play Hide (or Mismatch) the Shoes. But not your date's.

Eventually, the execrable line dances will occur. I know my readers are loathe to participate in such constricted and conscripted movement, so try this: Get up and do your own dance, which is slightly different that the expected steps. People, like lemmings, will eventually follow you. When you've totally scotched up said dance, repair hastily to the bar for another tangy whiskey sour and watch the mayhem ensue. Women of a certain age get really pissed about this.

If you're on a solo mission, inspect the wedding party for hotties. A few whiskey sours often do the trick. Even with the Earth Biscuit from Vermont, in a pinch. Tell her you're a born-again vegan.

Do not laugh when Uncle Bumps tries to dance to "Brown Sugar." Instead, give him plenty of room, due to the indelible laws of Issac Newton.

If they do that ridiculous garter-bouquet business, steer clear. I saw a woman hike up her dress for the garter... AND SHE WAS WEARING KNEE-HIGHS. Sausage-casing-colored ones. The chicken-football began to return. The scene looked like the starboard beam of the Pequod.

Give money.

Have fun, within limits.

More useful drivel to come. Write to the author at webectomy@gmail.com .


  1. Sounds like every wedding I have ever gone to. And no, I don"t line dance.

  2. Sounds like every wedding I have ever gone to. And no, I don"t line dance.