Till ? Do Us Part


Copyright 1992 by Kathy Biehl. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for electronic replication of this article only if you include the copyright notice.

Excerpted from Ladies' Fetish & Taboo Society Compendium of Urban Anthropology, Winter of Our Discontent '92, Vol. V, No. 2.

Most of the groom's family boycotted the ceremony. One of the groomsmen drank a half a bottle of Jack Daniels before arriving at the church. The groomsmen wore tuxes with stripes alternating shiny and dull black, and white vests embossed with shiny white paisleys. (Their groomsmen's gifts -- an engraved water set -- a fancy beaker with a water glass -- elicited sporadic cracks about urine tests.) When a pal tried to photograph them before the ceremony, Jack Daniels' friend -- who is a 6'10" ex-college-athlete -- threatened to rip the shutterbug's arm out of its socket.

The minister traveled to the altar by wheelchair; the wedding party lifted both passenger and transport into officiating position. The chapel was light only by candlelight, some of which emanated from hurricane lamps being carried by the bridesmaids. Holding glowing flames below chin level created a gruesome, Halloween-monster effect on their faces, similar to that of pointing a flashlight up at your chin. The most pronounced impact was on the bride's sister, who without benefit of lighting already resembles the sheriff department's receptionist on "Picket Fences" (the actress who was also the psychic in "Poltergeist.")

Despite the subdued lighting, four camcorders (two in the balcony) and a still camera captured every should-have-been sacred moment.

Before the bride began her processional, the organ broke into "Summertime." (The calendar said: November.) The congregation remained standing, after the bride arrived (carrying a predominantly plastic bouquet), for some 15 to 20 minutes; the minister had no idea of the problem with people standing, since he was sitting. Before the vows were exchanged, the minister announced that the groom had selected some music to honor the bride. A man played the guitar and sang The Troggs' "Love Is All Around." ("I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes...")

The troglodyte guitarist saved the day -- and the congregation's feet -- when the bridal consultant dispatched him from the back of the church to whisper a message to the bride's mother. She sat down. Then everyone else did.

During the vows, the bride* whined a specially prepared speech promising obedience and subjugation. It was noticeable to the audience that she was whispering portions of the speech to herself before speaking them out loud, because she had forgotten what she was going to say. Ensconced in a pew, the wife of the aforesaid Jack-Daniels-charged groomsman lost her composure so badly that she bent over to avoid drawing attention to her stifled hysterical laughter. Her situation only worsened when her male companion (and our informant) put his arm around her and said, consolingly, "There, there, I know you always get emotional at times like this."

  1. *Who had institute the revolutionary practice of one member of the bridal couple hosting a shower for the other by throwing a craftsman tool shower for her hubby-to-be. (The goal, which she achieved, was preventing a bachelor's party. Her intent was to have all his friends under one roof -- hers -- and take their keys away from them as they arrived.) She invited 50 people. Five showed up.

The pious words being intoned at the altar bore little relationship to the personality that everyone had been putting up with. In the days before the wedding, the bride had spent a lot of time pointing her finger at people, especially her fiance, and nastily berating guests -- some of whom had gone to great expense and bother to arrange time off work and travel from several states away to attend the Friday ceremony (timed for the sole convenience of the couple, which wanted to start their honeymoon by accepting a solicitation for a free, Saturdays-only look at a beach timeshare condo) -- about their choice of wedding present.**  *** At the rehearsal dinner the night before, her family greatly outnumbered his (even though his, per tradition, was footing the bill), due to his family's objections to his choice of bride, and her having invited as many relatives as she could think of.

  1. ** And now for some equal-opportunity disparaging: when this particular groom was the best man for the groomsman who keeps being singled out in this story, he could not be bothered to take time off work (a night shift) for the bachelor's party and left the rehearsal dinner early.

***  More of their gifts came from Home Depot than from department stores. The couple had in fact registered with Home Depot. We are not making this up. Not any of it.

After the ceremony, the assembly adjourned to a fellowship hall in the Baptist church for the music-and-alcohol-free reception. Getting out of the chapel took a while, however, because the exit was blocked by the reception line, which was set up in the foyer.

Several of the groom's friends detoured the parking lot, where they'd had the foresight to stash a cooler of beer and a supply of Certs. To amuse themselves they went back and forth between the car and the party (where they threatened to spike the punch.) A problem with this coping mechanism (besides triggering the recurring observation, "Man, all of you smell like Certs!") was the absence in the fellowship hall of a men's rest room -- a circumstance that only increased the necessity and frequency of trips out by the car.

In the hall, photographs of the bride and groom at different stages of growing up surrounded their respective cakes. The bride's wedding portrait (enlarged to several feet tall) stood on an easel adjacent to her table. A basket chock full of miniatures of the same had been carefully placed by the sign-in book. Instead of helping themselves to the bounty, guests were more likely to look at each other quizzically and ask, "Have you ever seen pictures being distributed at a wedding before?"

Two of the guests were startled by the appearance of the groom's cake, which had been baked and decorated to replicate a boat that they own, with figures of a groom carrying his bride in flagrant trespass over the threshold onto the boat. Already confused, one of the owners misread the name iced across the craft as "S.S. Minnow" and wandered about the reception serenading people, "for a three hour tour."

The bride and groom lingered so long in the church having photos taken that by the time they sashayed into the reception, most of the food and the guests were gone.

Before the party's end, the toasty group set up a pool of bets on how long this marriage will last, The oft-aforementioned groomsman is holding the money while the clock runs.