They often take place in awkward, awkward places. Remember that $800 that never in your worst nightmares did you imagine you’d EVER spend on a plane ticket to Boise, Idaho? Somehow, weddings can drag you unwillingly to an alien solar system where you’re doomed to conduct a desperate, futile search for some sort of urban kindred spirit — a bearded hipster pseudo-lumberjack in skinny jeans, perhaps? An NPR tote bag? An asymmetrical haircut? A Jew?! No such luck.
They produce the most awkward conversations of all time. Whether it’s your drunk ex, your drunk brother, your drunk mom, your drunk mom’s ex… chances are, if it’s a wedding, more than one person is going to be drunk and awkward. Even if you’ve never met them before. Case in point: I once found myself seated at a glittery reception table with a Marine and his wife who were explaining to me why they couldn’t possibly move to Colorado. “Well,” explained the wife, who smelled like the pink perfume lovechild of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, “we’re worried about rasing our children around, you know… the gays.” And, scene.
There’s always a person who talks about babies. And that’s awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies. I totally want one. But being the oldest of four with ten years on my youngest brother means that I actually know what babies are like — and a lot of the time, they’re like little shitty pieces of shit. It’s true. But many people, including the aforementioned BritneyBieber-Smelling Marine Wife, have amazingly inflated ideals about what babies are actually like, and thus begin bombarding the poor newlyweds with a delightfully inaccurate diatribe about how babies, ALL babies, are just wonderful, all the time, and smell like Twinkies and sunshine, and now that this couple is married, they need to have a baby, like NOW. People who talk about babies at weddings should be banned from weddings.
The “how we met” story is inevitably awkward, although everybody pretends it’s not. I have a great deal of respect for couples who met in the bizarrest and possibly most compromising of situations — either they were introduced because one of them was dating the other’s sister/mother/therapist, OR they met on the F train, at the sex toy store, in the bar bathroom, in an Occupy Wall Street tent, or at an opening night screening of Twilight — so why don’t we just embrace the awkwardness? You can’t gloss over a first date that includes vomit and magically turn it into a perfect, dramatic, love-at-first-sight moment that will look awesome on your TheKnot.com page.
They have awkward arbitrary seating arrangements. Maybe you got stuck sitting next to that girl you hooked up with once in college, and she was all “Sooo, it’s nice to see you, wanna have a threesome?” Or maybe you were seated next to Aunt Tabitha when she puked on the centerpiece. Or maybe (can you spot the true story?) your partner was a groomsman, which meant that he was over at the Bridal Party Table, eating his dinner of fried, crispy things in peace, blissfully ignorant of the not-so-subtle BabiesBabiesNoGays Campaign attacking his partner over at Table 12. I’m just saying — the disastrous seating-arrangement possibilities are endless.
Jesus is often involved. And where’er He goest, awkface followeth (or something like that). Sure, Christianity is great (for some people) just like eating snails is great (for some people). But let’s respect everybody’s religion — or lack thereof — and not mandate that all 250 wedding guests recite twelve Bible verses in tandem. Can’t we just watch and let the priesty guy do the reciting?
There’s always a Wedding Grinch. And surprisingly, it’s not always me! Sure, weddings make me uncomfortable on a very basic level (like, all that shiny whiteness hurts my eyes) while also giving me a creeping case of the Heteronormativity Heebie-Jeebies. Whatevs. But every time I think I’m the Grinch Who Stole Wedding Season I meet somebody whose life’s work seems to be the cultivation of a deep hatred of not just weddings, but marriage and relationships in general. This is a person with a prepared mental dissertation on love as the end of individuality, couplehood as weakness, and the cancer-causing outcomes of wedding cake consumption. (If you are that person, please come stand next to me so I can look like Glinda the Happy Wedding Fairy by comparison).
Do you even KNOW about the Tentative List?? Because I didn’t. Not until one of my coworkers informed me that my partner and I were on it. “You’re on the tentative list for the wedding invites,” she said, like it was no big deal. I was secretly offended. I mean, my name was tacked onto some roster of space-fillers, as a consolation prize for when the real friends canceled! Is having an extra space so awkward that a pinch-hitter needs to be on call, just in case? Did she think it would make me feel better knowing I had made that list, any list, because it would be better than making no list at all?!? These are the awkward questions weddings force us to ask ourselves.
Sometimes, you cry anyway. Take the father-daughter dance, for example. Inevitably, just as I’m ready to cake-knife myself in the face, the bride and her dad start their swaying-back-and-forth-to-Tony-Bennett and I’m a sobbing mess. Because maybe the bride and I used to cut gym class together. Or maybe I went with the groom to a strip club on his 18th birthday. Or maybe I’m thinking of dancing, one day, with my own kid when they get married. Because are the Heteronormativity Heebie-Jeebies enough to begrudge the people you love doing something that makes them happy? Of course not. These crazies are my favorite people in the universe, and we all support each other on whatever paths we want to follow, in whatever shenanigans we choose — whether it’s scaling mountains, learning underwater basket-weaving, or getting hitched. It’s true that I don’t adore weddings. They’re not my thing, and let’s face it: they’re often awkward. But no one who is as pro-love as I am could be truly anti-wedding at heart. So there you have it; I don’t love weddings, but I don’t un-love them either. I guess I must be on the tentative list.