Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unusual Weddings.

Tonight I'm helping send off another pair of friends into holy matrimonial bliss. The reception is being held at our friend's bar in the South Side. This in itself wouldn't be so unusual, except that the bar is going to be closed on a Saturday night between 8-11PM. I imagine there are going to be some disheartened regulars (at least the ones who aren't invited). While it is certainly not conventional, this setup is nowhere near as odd as other wedding ceremonies and receptions I have attended. In fact if someone were interested in tracing the changes in traditional marriage values, he/her would do well to begin with the strange manner by which couples are tying the proverbial knot.

One of the first weddings I attended in Pittsburgh was that of a college buddy. You would have been hard pressed to find a single individual (including the bride and groom) who would have unequivocally backed that pairing. The groom's brother was pegged as "best man", but I ended up doing a lot of the legwork required of him. The bride was a stripper, and I had the (perhaps) unenviable task of chaperoning her to her gigs in the months leading up to the wedding. She knew I found the entire situation a bit awkward, so she would use her womanly parts to taunt me whenever I'd get close. Needless to say I kept my distance. During the wedding ceremony and reception, which was completely alcohol-free, I sweated as if I was descending into Hell. It took all of my restraint not to voice objections when the pastor gave us the chance.

My brother-in-law had a lavish wedding, but there were certainly some idiosyncracies there too. It was an outdoor affair presided over by a Native American shaman, with a mildly disapproving rabbi looking on. I can't read minds... but as the chief made his prayers to the seasons and the four cardinal directions, I thought I heard the word "schmuck" under someone's breath. It really was a beautiful day though, and the marriage seems to be still going strong.

Of course I wrote previously about the recent wedding I attended at the Mattress Factory (and internationally-renowned installation art museum). There were placards and audience participation. I also remember going to a lesbian wedding in a Unitarian Church. Their reception was in a fire hall. I'm not sure if that strikes a fitting note or not. Certainly the brides were solid enough to be volunteer firefighters, but I believe the hall was chosen for economic reasons, rather than as some vague political statement. I was also once fortunate enough to attend the reception of two older and wealthy antique dealers. They had a pig roast, bonfire, and a thirty minute Zambelli fireworks display. I was told the price of the explosives alone was over $50K. I guess that's what's considered extravagant in Western PA.

We chose a cattle farm on the fringe of Armstrong County for our own wedding. The owners had decideed to diversify and build a full-service bed and breakfast on the property. Our choice was especially ironic considering that half of the invitees were vehement vegans. We had a bonfire, and I had my buddy set up his DJ equipment in a barn. Despite his being late (a condition that threw the fear of god into me), he ended up being a good choice. He kept people moving, and played a lot of late night indie rock. It was a good environment to let loose, and a whole bunch of people spent the night. We even got served a breakfast buffet in the morning.

While it's great to have a memorable setup for an important day in your life, novelty should be balanced with practicality. Having an underwater or skydiving ceremony can put people off. Just make sure there's lots of liquor for the punks and chairs for the old folks. That way you can't go wrong.


Blogger Dagrims said...

I fondly remember one of the groomsmen at my wedding reception getting flagged by the bartender at the pre-reception open bar.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Wow. Was I there?? I don't remember that.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous jefg said...

Having been there, I hereby confirm dagrims version of the events. Merge, you were not too happy about his call, though given your condition, I can certainly understand why you don't remember it happening. It was a wonderful night.

What I remember is the bride and groom "forgetting" to eat at the reception (as they danced the night away), then calling his parents aafter midnight to pick up and deliver some food to their honeymoon suite, followed by giving a tour of same. Said parents were appreciative, but chose to leave at their earliest convenience.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Well jefg,

You guys are remembering part of what happened certainly. It certainly was suggested to the groomsman in question that maybe he had drank enough. But after a brief discussion the bartender saw the error of HER ways, and served that groomsman to his heart's content.

Yes... the bartender was a woman. At the end of the night the groomsman asked that same bartender for a photo of her, and was granted his request. The photograph was composed well and in focus, which testifies to the groomsman's presence of mind and relative sobriety at the end of the night. The bartender grudgingly admitted her error in judement.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Dagrims said...

I never thought the groomsman in question was drunk. It was actually a comical situation because this groomsman was probably one of the most sober of the seven, given the screwdriver-drinking contest that was taking place.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

The bartender would have done well to do some alcohol to weight ratio computations.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

That was a lovely post and about quite unsual experiences indeed. Just loved reading about it.Each one of us have our own bag of such experiences but probably cant think of it all when you start writting about it.But You did a great job.
Do peep into my wedding blog and lemme know if you like it. Cheers!!

1:55 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


Thanks for the kind words.

7:52 PM  

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