“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag…”
- Paul Simon
The other day, I was invited to a very dear friend’s wedding. At 48, I don’t go to many weddings anymore. The Bulk Wedding Years between 25 and 31 have been over for a while, and thankfully, The Kids’ Wedding Years are still a ways off. So I was quite excited to attend this wedding, because I miss them.
Seriously, I love weddings, and I don’t say that with any sense of irony or sarcasm or even humor. Weddings are awesome. Weddings are a terrific party. And more than that, weddings are one of the last bastions of ancient tradition in an American culture devoid of customs and a sense of connection to the past. I love the ceremony, the vows and the ritual that underlies every part of it. Weddings are the ultimate “uniter” (to get all George Bush on you) in a society that almost embraces its divisiveness; it uses traditions as old as human civilization to unite two different families, two sets of friends and two souls into one. And you get to eat and drink on someone else’s dime.
One of the traditions that I see common in all weddings is this idea of creating The Perfect Day. There isn’t a single bride out there that hasn’t uttered the phrase, “I want my wedding to be perfect,” typically to the consternation of the party paying for the party. But face it – it’s not sexist to say that every girl dreams about her wedding day from the time she’s old enough to envision her marriage, even to the point where she already knows certain details about the Big Day before the engagement ring slips on her finger: The style of the dress, who the Maid of Honor will be, even the color of the tablecloths. Once the planning is in full swing, brides, wedding coordinators and yes, even grooms, go into full-scale Strategic Implementation, honing details in a manner that makes the Normandy Invasion look like a backyard barbecue. After a year or so of this, enough stress to illict a thousand ulcers, and about $20,000 to $50,000 out of pocket, you get, God willing, The Perfect Day.
And the perfect day it was. The bridesmaids were perfectly beautiful in their perfectly tailored dresses. The Bride was perfectly gorgeous and glowed like a bride, while the groom, though admittedly bearing the pall of a man ready to blow chow, looked perfectly studly in his Ricky Ricardo tuxedo. The ceremony was perfect, as two people so obviously and madly in love with one another made their vows of devotion.
Love, you see, is a commitment to a person, while marriage is a commitment to a process. The promises we make in a wedding ceremony are our way of saying, “Look, I love you and you make me happy and I want to feel this way for the rest of my life, so here’s what I’m willing to do to make that happen.” So we make vows. We vow to honor, to cherish, to respect both our identities as individuals and as a couple. We commit not just to one another, but to a set of ideas that time has proven will help nurture a lasting relationship – one that prevails through sickness, poor times and the worst life has to offer, until freaking death.
My friends made these vows. They looked each other straight in the eye and said it out loud to one another. They said it slowly, with conviction, letting the words drift gently on the air, with a brave and audacious bid at eternity. “I do,” they whispered, leaving no dry eye in the house. Including mine.
And so The Perfect Day continued. The food was perfect. The beef was perfectly beefy and the chicken was perfectly chickeny. The cake was perfectly delicious, the wine flowed perfectly and when “We Are Family” blared from the DJ’s speakers, everyone hit the dance floor in perfect unison. And when the bride and groom whisked away to their perfect honeymoon spot, they did so under a shower of perfectly spherical bubbles blown by the guests. It was…perfect.
I was solo that night, as my Beleaguered Wife drew the short straw when the babysitter flaked out an hour before the event. Though she left the porch light on, the inside was completely dark, so I stood at the entry and took off my shoes and socks so I would be quiet as I walked across the hardwood floors to the kitchen. No sooner had I started tip toeing than I stepped directly in a warm, mucoidal substance, the viscosity and soft-chunky texture of which could only be dog vomit. So as not to smear the Cocker Spaniel effluent all over the living room, I hopped on one foot across the floor towards the kitchen to get a rag. On my third hop, I landed directly on an up-turned 3×4 inch House Builder Barbie Block, shooting a searing, Roman crucifixion-style pain blast from my arch to my frontal lobe. In an effort not to wake the family, I lunged face-first into the couch and screamed into the pillow like the three-year-old girl who left the block so inopportunely placed in my path. As my eyes started adjusting to the darkness, I could see that in fact the whole living room looked like Hurricane Katrina had landed at Toys r’ Us, so I decided not to risk the potential mine field to the kitchen. I took my shirt off, cleaned the bile and half-digested chunks of Hap-E-Hound Dog Food off my foot with it, and threw it in the general direction of the laundry room. Hey, that’s what washing machines are for.
I had taken a small, wrapped truffle from the wedding and was going to leave it on my three-year-old’s nightstand, because she just goes crazy-ass happy over that sort of thing, so I made my way down the hall to her room. The kids had been sick, because kids are sick EVERY DAY, so I could hear that the humidifier was running in their room. When I slowly opened the door, I was greeted by the putrescent smell of a duece-injected diaper that my Beleaguered Wife had most probably forgotten to throw out in the sheer anarchy of trying to put two kids to bed. Combined with the warm, moist air of the humidifier, the smell showered on me like a fecal monsoon, and had I not developed an iron clad gag reflex through years of having a nurse as a wife (“You want to know the grossest thing I saw today??”), I would surely have joined the dog in downloading the entire contents of my stomach. Holding my breath, I quietly placed the truffle next to my daughter’s bed, grabbed the guilty diaper, threw it the hall bathroom and shut the door on it like so much radioactive waste. Note To Self: Take Morning Pee in Master Bath.
I opened the door to my room to find the wife dead asleep on the bed, the covers pulled over to her side. All the covers. My side was barren like the Sahara, her side was all cozy like..like..like when your wife takes all the damn covers. I slipped off my pants and crawled in, performing the timeless ritual of Repossessing My Fair Share of the Blankets Without Waking The Wife. Finally and safely ensconced, I curled up next to her and listened to her breathe for a while, my grown-up lullaby for the past ten years.
“I do,” I whispered, though I knew she was sleeping. “I do.”
The Perfect Wedding Day Pairs With: Krug Brut Champagne Collection 1989 ($540). The Champagne toast is one of the oldest traditions of the wedding ceremony. For milennia, couples celebrated their union with the finest wine the tribe could come up, and for hundreds of years, that was honey mead (hence our modern day term, “honeymoon”). In 1843, a particularly awesome tribe member named Johann Krug started Krug Champagne, and his 1989 vintage is one of the most amazing and complex bubblies you’ll ever taste.
The bottle aging has created a light caramel color and preliminary notes on the nose of maple. However, the wine still remains dry despite this fragrance and its flat-out tidal wave of apple, orange rind and pear. This wine is like a really expensive wedding dress, complete with a bustier, corset, long flowing train and the whole nine, such that when you’re taking that thing off for the wedding night, each layer is a slow, lingering process that’s totally worth the effort, revealing more delights and increasing satisfaction.
So here’s the thing. You just spent tens of thousands of dollars and probably a year of time to create The Perfect Day. The outer border of the wedding invitation matches the color of the Groomsmens’ cumber buns and because they’re not in season for your wedding day, the peonies you’ve got in your bouquet were flown in from Vietnam. And you’re going to pay tribute to all this awesomeness with Korbel? “Of course I am, JT,” you say. “I’ve got 150 guests coming, and even if I got Tattinger at $45 a bottle, you’re talking probably another $2,250 expense.”
Good point. Here’s what you do: Korbel for the guests, Krug for the bride and groom. You’re banking memories here, baby. When you’re elbow-deep in every imaginable fluid that emanates from your children’s orifaces and the mortgage payment is 29 days late, your Fight or Flight reflex is going to search manically for some reason to keep it all together, and the memory of this wine is going to do the trick. Just kinda keep an eye on the bottle, because crazy Uncle Jim is going to nab that puppy while you’re not looking and down half of it before you and the single bridesmaids stop singing along to “I Will Survive.”