“you are invited to a wedding”
I always tell people I’ve been married 13 years. That was two years ago (wasn’t it?). Blame childbirth and child-rearing. My mind went on vacation and hasn’t returned since.
Hasn’t stopped my almost obsessive interest in weddings. I don’t care if it’s a stranger’s or a friend’s, I’m there, in spirit, soaking up the paraphernalia. It’s my one nod to a girly-feminine side.
[Side note: I’m sitting in front of my laptop in blue sweat pants and Eddie’s gray Netegrity t-shirt, bare feet, ankles bleeding from Day 7 of my treadmill walk, hair wet from a shower, nothing else on, not even blush.]
My wedding happened rather quickly, an afterthought. I’d met Eddie walking out of Nadine’s music store on the cusp of December, 1989, on assignment for the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii newsletter, he on a break from his day job (at night, he’d play in the band for Flashback, a Vegas style act in Waikiki, featuring celebrity impersonators like Elvis and the Supremes). He said, “Nice camera.” I thought he was talking to someone else. Most people ignore me on a good day – and back then, I was one year into a very good series of days, I jogged for six miles per as exercise, ate stringently from a mostly vegetarian diet and whittled myself down to a sensible size 6. Besides, as the Chamber of Commerce editor, people usually talked nicely to me to get in the newsletter, so that’s what I figured this tall, lanky, red-haired guy was doing with me.
Inwardly rolling my eyes and sighing, I gave him 15 minutes and realized he wanted to talk to me about anything, my retainers, his teeth, my upcoming gall bladder surgery, his trip to Japan for Flashback.
Halfway through our courtship, Eddie quizzed me on my likes, dislikes, specifically in the genre of the region of this country I’d most like to live, angling for his real deal: He wanted to move off “The Rock” as the restless natives called paradise and move in with his parents (who were retiring and about to move to Spring Hill, FL, in a few months), then, branch out on his own after getting settled. He did not want to do this alone.
One night, he broached the subject for the hundredth round-about time by way of fond reminisces of New York pizza (I could relate; we both spent considerable childhoods on the East Coast). I finally cut him short, “What are you asking me? You want me to move with you, is that it?” Before he could answer (a sign of our marriage to come), I answered for him, “Because if that’s it, I’m not going with you as a mistress.” He replied, looking very much the befuddled Damian Lewis, “Uh, … [five minutes elapsed] … no, no. Of course we should get married first.” I said, “Is this a proposal? Are you asking me to marry you?” He nodded.
There. That was our romantic engagement. We planned our nuptials like military generals, down to the chocolate fondant on the outside, three-tiered cake no matter what the wedding party and my mom bleated to the contrary about traditions without meaning.
Had we more time, had we been living where we wanted (we still haven’t found that out yet, and we’re in our 40s), we’d have probably done an even more traditional wedding in terms of Hawaii culture, an outdoor ceremony, reception in a hotel ballroom, a band, first dance, gift registry with Liberty House (now a Macy’s, I believe)… but still our chocolate decadence cake with raspberry filling.
When I’m bored, which is often lately, I like to imagine our dream wedding redo, spare no expense. Marry at Kailua Beach, sunset, bare feet, barbecue potluck, teri chicken and beef, Spam musubi, fried noodles, sweet pink and green mochi. No wait, everybody off to Maui’s Waimea end, a Hyatt or a Four Seasons resort ballroom, all-you-can-eat buffet style, filet mignon, lobster, oysters on the half shell, lumpia, Minute Chicken Cake Noodle, Gomoku Tofu Yakisoba, saag paneer and masala gobi for the vegetarians like my best friend Jon, with stations throughout, one with the sushi guy from Kat’s on Kapiolani Blvd., another with Eddie (or our church friend Kathleen) doing from-scratch, in-a-wooden-bowl Caesar, your choice of shrimp or roast chicken shreds, Eddie playing piano with his favorite band mates from three states, Noel, Bryon, Bruce, Marit… me in a Vera Wang, my bridesmaids in sky-blue, different dresses they picked out for themselves.
Dreaming about weddings, mine, yours, theirs, doesn’t matter, is a hobby with me. While my family and I were on our two-month road trip, I picked up a Vanity Fair loaded with celeb weddings, including those of Star Jones, Tori Spelling, Carmen Electra, Mira Sorvino. While sitting on various hotel room toilets during the trip every morning, as is my IBS-D ritual, I’d pore over every detail like a dying man in a desert searching for the oasis. One couple had McDonald’s burgers alongside the foie gras, another went to Italy for pasta in cream sauce… as much as I loathe Ms. Jones and her ostentatious diva fawning, I had to admire her for getting (as rumored) most of her nuptials pre-paid by the companies dying to cash in on her celebrity, as well as her lavishly ostentatious taste for the finer things, I think she had filet mignon, lobster, champagne, the classics, lots of white roses, crystal flutes, mile-high candelabra.
This past weekend, the TV Food Network aired a special on weddings, repeating fond favorites and culminating on Sunday with Food Network Caters Your Wedding, the winning couple, an impossibly thin and beautiful actor and a model, natch, and their winning prize of a catered wedding reception. All the big-name Food Network chefs and cooks participated in making LeAnn and Aaron’s wedding spectacular and fried-food-free. Needless to say, you knew where I was…
Only four months ago, I would daydream about one of those chefs cooking for our fantasy wedding, probably Giada (Everyday Italian) or Ina (Barefoot Contessa).
But it’s not just the food.
The first thing I notice, believe it or not, is the wedding dress. Whenever Eddie comes back from doing a wedding gig, I’m on him like beads on lace about what the bride wore, what about her bridal party, give me the color scheme. I prefer A-lines, long, flowing, white or creamy off-white, simple, usually not off-the-shoulder, something very Chanel, nothing in satin (it’s a wedding not your honeymoon, slut), very little beading, the only acceptable jewelry, a single strand of pearls, hair up high with soft curly tendrils falling gracefully in an almost thoughtless, clumsy array near the back of the exposed neck.
Then, as I’m admiring the overall effect of the floral arrangements (less is more), I would’ve had mine draped in tulips (but in Hawaii, it’s leis, roses or whatever’s cheapest in season to ship from the Mainland; in my case, roses, lilies, carnations), the less-used, least-well-known flowers, the deeper my admiration, … my eyes will gravitate toward the cake. (I will actually make a beeline for the food table before making the social rounds upon entering any party, wedding or cocktail, to peruse the sights, and stake a claim.)
I am a fool for a well-built, creatively stacked cake, far from the maddening white fluffy icing and soft puffy air balls of sponge filling any idiot can buy for 10 bucks a pop at Safeway on a Saturday night. Keep Sandra Lee away from me.
The latest cake trend tends to be different flavors in every layer, or as wacky (read: more to the couple’s personality) as possible. Several years ago, I actually sat in wonder for 15 minutes after watching a wedding byte about a couple who stacked Krispy Kreme donuts for their wedding cake. I’ve watched cake bakers put together unbelievable works of art with sugar and technology, as in recent competitions on the Food Network (my favorite was the monkey), cake bakers who don’t even follow the tiers and go off on their own tangents, a large cell phone, a tool box, uneven steps into heaven, upside-down pyramids and stars, (I wonder if they’d do my purple vibrator?).
But I’m back to the food, aren’t I?
My theory here is, I love weddings because they’re the top tier, if you will, of entertaining. For quite the wallflower, I do enjoy attending other people’s parties, be they showers, holiday affairs, or just because it’s sunny out. It’s about more than what can I eat, it’s about how people display themselves, how they interact with others, how a combination of the host and the guests provide food for thought for days after. And, it’s no wonder that some of my happiest childhood memories came from the impromptu block parties my father helped kick-start into gear, with his barbecue and our kickball games. I’m still working on one for our current Lynnwood neighborhood.
I believe any gathering with people, food and a festive atmosphere is the closest we can get to God and heaven.
On August 6, I’m going to a wedding thrown by Kathleen, the mother of the bride, her middle daughter Rochelle (a size 4). Kathleen, who, besides working in a real estate office, caters real estate shindigs and her own with an offbeat, improvisational charm. Her house is decorated with clocks she does offbeat things too, like add Barbie arms to, oversized perfume bottles in the bathroom, postcards of interesting musical artists, candles in opera shells, record albums as potato chip bowls, and the oddest odds and ends this side of Chia.
I’ve already grilled her on every detail planned, from the rustic Italian table-scape in silvers and bronzes, to the ravioli and bruschetta she’ll order from a favorite Italian restaurant up in Everett to pick up, for 250. I’ve oohed and aahed over Rochelle’s floor-length wedding gown, scoop neck, tight bodice, modest straps, gently flowing skirt, minimal beading, the size 4 (another friend, Becca, quipped, “Add a ‘1’ in front and…”) she bought from David’s Bridal.
I’ve even volunteered to pick up, drop off and set out the catered food, clean up later, and secretly plan to take digital pictures with my trademarked candid blurs of the wedding, to share with Kathleen later. (Maybe I could turn a hobby into a freelance job.)
If our son James, 3, ever decides to marry outside the Vegas front, he’s in big trouble.
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