Wedding Day Blues

Shortly after my 50th year on God’s green earth, I decided to get a college education. Not familiar with student loan options, I chose instead to work my way through school.

Choosing a major in broadcasting was not the worst thing I could do with $23,000. That would have been throwing it out the window of a moving car. Lucky for me, as a minimum wage member of the radio media, I couldn’t afford to own a car.

No doubt my vast knowledge of American music history would be a real resume’ enhancement. There’s probably a thought more wrong than that, but I haven’t discovered it yet.

I hosted 64 wedding and receptions, during the next two years, and had the Bride from Hell only twice. I’m told that’s quite an accomplishment. Alcohol figured prominently in both events. I know, go figure!

One groom influenced by his own consumption encouraged a hundred guests to hit the open bar, then was handed a bill ten times his estimate. Sometime that night the bride had a black eye. I don’t know how many hours that marriage lasted. But most reception incidents were just embarrassing, funny, moving, or mystifying.

My own parents were married in 1938 in a Phoenix, Arizona tavern. Someone thought it would be fun for them to be handcuffed together. It was cute until one of them needed a restroom, and no one could find the cuff keys. Alcohol may have been a factor then too.

In one of my early gigs, I had a bride and groom who were blueblood Norwegians. When I asked whether they preferred me in a tuxedo or business casual attire, they insisted I come in jeans and a work shirt. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that but did jokingly offer to wear my #24 Dupont Chevy Jeff Gordon racing jacket.

“Perfect!” they answered. So there I was, Saturday night, sporting a French cuff shirt, black satin vest, and my two-tone, dacron racing jacket!

Taking requests was part of my job. Often it was to play something meaningful, sentimental, or romantic. Occasionally it was to recognize a particular person or accomplishment.

My favorite request was from the groom who said, “I don’t know the name of the song, and can’t remember who sang it, but it had something to do with a lady in a red dress.”

“You mean ‘Lady In Red’ by Chris Deburgh,” I asked. “Recorded in 1984?”

“That’s the one!” he shouted.

“Never heard of it,” I said evenly.

“Oh…” he responded glumly, and walked away.

“Wait, wait!” I said quickly when I realized he didn’t get the joke. “I’ve got it right here!”

Weather was always an uh, interesting factor. At an October wedding reception being held at an outdoor pavilion, a baker took exception to my sound check. At the same time I was cranking up the volume of 1500 watt speakers, he was putting the finishing touches on a tall, stately wedding cake. He was afraid of vibrations. Neither of us knew the real villain, lurking in the ceiling, when they closed the pavilion doors to ward off the chilly air. As dinner was served, and heaters came on, the five-layered cake trimmed in ornamental chocolate slowly toppled over in a silent mess.

One bride insisted the reception was all about her. Wrong, I politely reminded her. The wedding was all about her. The reception was her thank-you to the guests for coming to the nuptials. Another blushing bride passed out at the head table. Still another, un-noticed by the entire party, fell asleep in their limo. The only thing they all had in common was a mostly white wedding gown.

Some said their vows in the daylight. Some were only meant for then. Some had lavish receptions featuring the finest food and drink money could buy. Others were at the local VFW lodge, for a hundred bucks a night, and the clean-up crew was the bride and groom.

Thought for The Day: The happiest couples don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

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