Backstage at the Wedding

10

Big news: My son got married last week, and now I have a daughter-in-law. I have lucked out in this department. Maria is a formidable person with beauty, brains and a lovely family hailing from the country of Ecuador. I often describe her as “the younger, prettier Penelope Cruz.” She is bilingual, she is doing her residency in orthodontics at Harvard, she is sweet and has a lot of really cute dresses. In general, she is a pretty upscale specimen of the human race.

I have known her since her junior year of college, almost eight years now, but as impressed as I have been with her – she was studying her biology textbook continuously the first time I met her — I did not fully realize who I was dealing with until I received a PDF document about a week before the wedding. This was a four-page chart titled “Maria & Hayes’s Wedding Itinerary.” The subtitle was “Winik Family + Groomsmen,” suggesting that there were a number of other versions.

The author and her son, the groom.

A wedding is among other things a vast network of plans. A big, complicated wedding like Hayes and Maria’s can reflect a year or more of planning by the bride and groom and their parents, and radiating out from them are the plans of other family members, the officiant, the vendors, and the guests. This wedding was black tie, it was in New York City, and a significant number of guests were coming from South America — so, yeah, people made plans.

When so many plans are made, it is a golden opportunity to see how plans are changed – how the unplanned pokes its head through the fabric of the planned in small and large ways. I offer as evidence the following significantly abridged and annotated version of Maria’s itinerary.

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2017

5:30 PM Meet in Lobby of the Hotel. Party of 31 attending rehearsal.

Mother of groom did not realize we were walking to the church, so ends up hobbling eight blocks in 4-inch-heels. Fancy church is locked because priest not back from vacation on the West Coast. Huge wedding party stands in street for quite some time. Eventually, alternate priest shows up and lets restive horde in to practice their processions.

7:00 PM Rehearsal Dinner at Trattoria Dell’Arte

Attractive, cozy space in cellar of restaurant perhaps not made for 60 people trying to order drinks and grab appetizers. Mother of groom/hostess in a panic due to crowding and still wearing 4-inch heels; surely two or three vodka sodas will help. Shoes kicked off for the night. Toasts go well – the mother of the groom’s toast practically turns into a pep rally; Groom’s younger brother/best man has people in tears; a couple from Harvard with a coordinated two-person routine demonstrate why some people go to Harvard and the rest of us don’t. Spontaneous speeches added by miscellaneous friends and relatives. Ecuadorian grandfather charms crowd with stories of medical procedures and farm animals.

9:15 PM Arrive at Harry’s Bar for Welcome Drinks

If anyone remembers what happened at Harry’s Bar, they weren’t there. Bride went back to room after briefly saying goodnight; groom whisked home hours later from unknown second bar by best man after bridesmaids clue in their leader by text about this unauthorized addition to the schedule.

SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2017

9:30/10:00 AM Optional Groomsmen Activity – TBD – Arrive at Winik House
– Please bring tuxedo, shoes, bowtie, dress socks, dress shirt, cufflinks, any toiletries you may need

Mother of groom has rented a fantastic Airbnb townhouse on East 62nd Street for family, good friends from DC, and a few of the groomsmen and their ladies. Complete group of nine groomsmen arrives punctually as specified – find groom comatose — assume optional activity will be eating bacon and watching golf on TV. But no, groom leaps out of bed, takes group to West Village to deadlift hundreds of pounds in circuit training routine, then eat tacos before returning for dress-up, arrival of photographer for bro photos, and commencement of whiskey drinking.

2:40 PM Groom orders Uber to Central Park (location to be confirmed) – Bring boutonniere
– Bring permit for cars

Parking permit? Thank God there was a Staples nearby so mother of groom could run and print permits off groom’s phone.

3:15 PM Bride & Groom First Look
– Coordinate with photographers

Because today’s modern couples have their photo shoots before the ceremony and not after, the groom’s first peek at the bride in her dress is now an orchestrated paparazzi event. This and other photo setups in Central Park were so lovely that crowds of tourists were taking pictures of the pictures.

5:30 PM Bride + Groom + wedding party return to Hotel in bus

Actually, bus was too crowded so groom’s mother had to ride with couple in white 1950s Rolls Royce!

In the Rolls!

6:30 PM CEREMONY STARTS
Family Processional

Mother of groom walks handsome son down the aisle of Catholic church in designer gown, four-inch heels, and professional hair and makeup, past row after row of beaming friends and relatives, with a violin and a piano playing Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. They are followed by mother and brother of bride plus pair after pair of groomsmen and bridesmaids, among them groom’s little sister, forming phalanx of gorgeousness and white roses on the steps of the transept. Little flower girl follows, stopping every few steps to pitch a single petal to the floor with force and precision.

Daughter Jane, fourth from right.

Bride’s Processional – “Prince of Denmark’s March”
– Bride escorted by Father of the Bride

The priest is back from vacation, thank God, but still seems pretty relaxed. Aware that the Catholic bride is marrying a Jew, he is not performing a mass but rather offering a free-form homily that includes a riff about how “Jews love wine.” Jews in the pews do not contest this. He goes on to discuss Pope Francis’s recent twelve-point letter on marriage and family – which apparently includes a section advising couples to “have good sex.” A rustle goes through the crowd as jovial priest elaborates on this unexpected point. Research later confirms that such a suggestion actually is found in the Pope’s document, if worded somewhat differently.

7:30 PM Guests arrive at the Central Park Boathouse for Reception. Drinks & hors d’oeuvres served.
Bride to have dress bustled by bridesmaid, leave veil in bridal room

Parts of this wedding cannot be written about without just bragging, so forgive me. It was all so spectacular and elegant, and I was so proud and elated. It was like nothing I ever would have imagined, and yet it was the perfect culmination of everything. Also, there were two salads and two desserts and a wraparound candlelit deck overlooking the Boat Pond. Ah, you shoulda seen it.

8:45 PM Appetizer served + entree selection made. Father of the Bride toast

Entire crowd falls in love with bride’s father due to sweetest toast in the world. He makes no reference to his own health issues which at one point almost scuttled the whole extravaganza — but in fact, this beating of the odds may be the itinerary’s finest moment.

10:10 PM Cake cutting
– Dessert served immediately after Music starts to pick up

10:20 PM First Dance

Couple dances to Blue Danube Waltz, per Ecuadorian tradition. Despite months of dance lessons (and father who was a professional figure skater!), groom struggles.

10:26 PM Dancing starts with everyone

It really was 10:26, if you can believe that. Under the influence of the Latin and US pop mix specified song by song by the bride, the party becomes a dance inferno.

11:30 PM Photographers + videographers leave

What? No!

1:30 AM Reception over

Mother of groom was with a one-last-drink crowd who ended up stranded in the park for an hour, finally jumping on a shuttle which came to a halt fifteen blocks from their destination and would have gone no further had the guests had not collected $43.62 and bribed the unwilling driver to continue.

Here Maria & Hayes’s Wedding Itinerary comes to an end, beginning the rest of their lives, in which the ability to make excellent plans will be no more important than the ability to quickly adjust when the universe gets a mind of its own. Good luck, kids.

**

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Marion Winik

Marion Winik

University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik writes Bohemian Rhapsody for the Baltimore Fishbowl on the first Wednesday of the month. She is the author of "First Comes Love", "The Glen Rock Book of the Dead" and other books, and the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her monthly email at marionwinik.com.
Marion Winik

10 COMMENTS

  1. Aw…..congratulations! Having first “met” your son via “Telling” years and years ago, this wonderful update makes me feel both delighted and ancient. (PS You look amazing.)

  2. Congrats Marion. Sounds like one glorious affair! Can’t wait to read the your
    article on the grand baby.

  3. mazel tov! It was all so gorgeous, the bride beautiful beyond words, the groom cute and proud and you lovely and joyful and blessedly healthy. Thanks for sharing. Regards, Marylyn

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