Tuesday, September 13, 2005
One of the staples of mid-twenties livin' is working the wedding circuit. After college, I got my first wedding invite and thought, "Awesome! A wedding! Free booze!" A year later, I got a second invite and thought, "Awesome! A wedding! More free booze!" In the time since then, I've gotten about 20 wedding invites. And now the feeling is, "Sweet - a wedding. I wonder how long it'll be before I clog the shitter at the hotel and get to feel awkward, looking apologetic as I stand in the bathroom watching some middle-aged Dominican guy plunging my feces-clogged toilet."
But recently the wedding invites have been coming in at an alarming pace. The good news is that this plethora of invites means that I have options. Being a wedding guest is an expensive undertaking, with transportation costs, hotels, gifts, and the inevitable raiding of the minibar/porn selection when I get back to my hotel room, loaded and lonely.
[Great name for my memoirs: "Jason Mulgrew: Loaded and Lonely." Up there with "The Rise and Fall of Nothing At All: How Jason Mulgrew and a Group of Con-Artists Destroyed the British Monarchy" and "Don't Tell Me How To Raise My Kids! The Jason Mulgrew Story" and "The Delicate Shepard: How Jason Mulgrew Saved NAFTA".]
It's not economically feasible for me to go to every wedding I get invited to, so I have to pick and choose which ones to go to. It may be slightly distasteful to turn down a wedding invite, but hey – what am I made of money? No - I am man made of iron and loyalty and passion, with a beard of steel wool and a penis like a Powerade bottle!
[I'm not trying to be a dick here by saying, "I get invited to so many weddings because I'm the coolest!" A lot of this has to do with being from an Irish Catholic family. My father is one of ten children and my mother is one of six, so I have forty or so cousins. Not only that, my extended family (second cousins and great aunts and uncles, etc), many of whom I'm close with, could fill a moderately-sized auditorium. So when I get an invite to a wedding in Minnesota of the orphan that my mom's cousin took in to raise as her own, I can decline. Unless of course (fill in stupid joke here).]
So since I've become a veteran of weddings - and will only get more experience in this area - I thought I'd write a little wedding primer for couples planning their nuptials. Because really, someone like me, who hasn't been touched by a woman not accidentally or in self-defense in ages, should really give wedding planning advice. On with the planning...
The first and most important aspect of wedding planning is the date. I'm not speaking of the specifics (i.e. according to the Pagan calendar, January 24 is the luckiest day to get married, whereas in Sephardic culture, April 12 is ideal) but of the general time of the year.
Of all the crap that goes into wedding planning, the groom should step up in this regard to make sure that the wedding does not take place during any major sporting events. For example, the first weekend in February (Super Bowl) is bad. As is the last weekend in October (World Series). Late March sucks (March Madness) and as do many weekends in June (hockey and basketball playoffs).
Please, do not believe that I am being glib here. Rather, I am very, very serious. There is no wedding on earth that I would go to if it coincided with my team playing in the Super Bowl or the World Series. None. I could be invited to a drug dealer's wedding where the party favors are prostitutes, the cake is made of cocaine, and the food choices are steak, bigger steak, and giant steak with blowjob and I STILL wouldn't go if the Eagles or Phillies were playing for the championship. Not debatable.
Serious grooms like myself (meaning, if I ever dupe a woman into marrying me or if she stays unconscious long enough) would essentially rule out everything from the last weekend in August until the second weekend in February (NFL and college football seasons and playoffs and end of baseball regular seasons and playoffs).
So grooms, if you take part in any part of the wedding preparation, do so here. Would you want to be getting married on the weekend on which your favorite team plays in the championship for the first time in fifteen, thirty, or fifty years? Do you know what the male guests at the wedding would do to/think of you if you let this happen? Not good, my friend. Not good.
As for non-sports related reasons, please don’t get married over a holiday weekend. It may work depending on where you and your family live, but if you have people coming from all over the place, pick another weekend. Do you really think guests want to spend their Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Thanksgiving weekends trudging half-way across the state/coast/country?
The perfect date to get married: Valentine’s Day. There are no major sporting events and for the rest of your life two presents/occasions become one. Studies have shown that knocking out Valentine’s Day and your anniversary in one shot could add years to your life. I'm not making that up. I'm just kidding – of course I am. But it's probably right.
Now we get more into specifics, because by "time" I mean day of the week and time of day.
This one is easy: Saturday evening/night. This is the best and really the only time to have a wedding. Friday nights are no good because that requires taking at least a half-day off at work. Fortunately, I get a crapload of vacation days, but if I had two or three weeks a year I wouldn't be so happy about using one of my days so I could travel to a wedding.
And any morning/afternoon wedding isn't going to cut it either. Who wants to wake up, get all dressed up, and go straight to church? That's the main reason I stopped being Catholic! And many times those with morning/afternoon receptions will say, "Well, the reception's over at 5 in the afternoon, but after that, we're going to a bar." Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but if I've been up since 9am and have been drinking from noon until 5pm, I don't want to keep drinking (wow - I never thought I'd write that. It kinda looks weird on paper.) I want to go back to the hotel room, order $60 worth of room service, beat off, and pass out. When I wake up at 9pm, I'll look for some more booze, but by then everyone else is passed out. Losers.
Saturday night is perfect. No day off required, plenty of travel time allotted beforehand, and also it's Saturday night - the universal time for getting messed up. Ideally, I don't want to go to a bar after a wedding. I want the reception to go from 8pm until 1 or 2 in the morning, so just as midnight comes up everyone is wasted and getting nasty on the dance floor (of course, while this is going on I'm in the bathroom with my dick in my hands crying because I'm lonely, but at least I have a nice buzz going). When the music stops, I want to go from the reception into a hotel room, preferably with a lovely lady to make our own magic but more likely with my buddy Joe to smoke some pot.
You're probably thinking that I'm going to say that you must have a large open bar to have a successful wedding. But I don't think that's the case. One of the best weddings I ever went to had a cash bar. Obviously, an open bar is preferable, but it's not a dealbreaker. And sure, I say this now, at my desk, not really desiring a drink. Ask me again how I feel when I'm at my friend's cousin's wedding and I've just learned that it's a cash bar. I will probably punch you in the face (aiming for the neck of course, but I'm not much of a fighter).
What I think really makes or breaks a wedding bar is (and this may sound dumb) the bartender. I've been to weddings where I've been served drinks by a gruff guy in a tux who looked like the wedding bartending gig was part of his prison work-release program. I've also been to weddings where the bartender was a shot-giving boozehound who was indiscriminately serving tequila and high-fives all night long. This makes a big difference in the course of the evening.
I don't know how much choice couples planning their wedding have in this department and I'm pretty sure that no one's taking me seriously about this anyway, but please, pick a good bartender. For me, at least.
The, Um, Other Stuff
Location: Probably the most important thing to the happy couple matters little to the weird guy with the beard sitting at the table by himself smelling of brine and touching everyone's food as they're on the dance floor. A house, a hall, a yard - I don't care. So save your cash for the lobster cake appetizers and have it in that big-ass field just off Exit #126 on the Parkway. It matters not.
Music: Many might disagree with me on this, but please - no band. Wedding bands are so unconscionably cheesy I don't know how anyone would even consider a band over a DJ. What's better: hearing your favorite songs from the people who wrote them or some cheesy dickhead singing Shania Twain's "You're Still The One"? Would you rather get the party started with Chubb Rock's "Treat 'Em Right" or twelve thirty-something assholes blaring a sad version of "Play That Funky Music"? Having said that, some bands do work - apparently. I've yet to be at a wedding where I said, "You know what? That fucking band was awesome. And I can't believe that guy died on the dance floor. That shit was crazy."
And I know that most DJs are kinda cheesy, but there's an element of control here. Have a friend MC, tell the DJ not to say anything, and give him a playlist. What's so hard about this? Are you not paying the guy? And if he has a problem, fuck it - don't pay him. That's my motto when it comes to hiring people ("If they don't deliver, don't pay them") and it's gotten me pretty far in the past 26 years.
(Well, not very far at all, but whatever)
Food: Wedding food is for old people. Give me something to put in my belly to sop up the vodka, cranberry juice, and vanilla milkshake, and I'm cool. If you're looking to cut costs, do so here. I would focus more on the appetizers, which are consumed when people are still sober, then the main course, which many people view as an obstacle to get around before partying the night away. I can't count the number of times my friends and I have been at a wedding and have said, "Can they bring the food out already? I'm trying to get fucked up here!" That's when my buddy Bill usually says something extremely racist and the whole table gets quiet and awkward.
Transportation: Having a shuttle to take drunk guests from the reception back to the hotel is a must. Firstly because you don't want to have anyone driving around drunk (Q: "How was the wedding?" A: "Good, except for when I ran over that dog or deer or kid or whatever the hell it was"), but secondly because being a designated driver at a wedding has got to be one of the world's worst jobs. So get a bus or two.
So there's my lil' wedding primer. I hope you enjoyed it and take it into consideration when planning your next wedding. And now I'm going to go about the business of making the playlist for my wedding. Because you never know when you're going to fall in love and tie the knot or get someone pregnant and have to marry her because her dad was in prison and he's not going back under any circumstances if you know what he means and he thinks you do.