Wedding


The girls from the cast of 101 Dalmatians were nice enough to get me a spa gift certificate as a wedding present.  I took advantage of it in September, wrote this longhand in the tea lounge, and just got around to posting it today.

I am from the Midwest.  I am not used to being waited on.  Yet one rainy September afternoon I found myself at the Setai Spa in Manhattan, courtesy of the 101D girls.

I had been running late.  It was six days before my wedding, and I had about nine million things to do.  I found myself staring down the clock at 4:00, then hastily dialing the spa to inform them I’d be late.  The endlessly calm receptionist re-arranged my appointments and I was out the door in Daisy Dukes and rain boots.

I have spent most of my adult life running late.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to amble into a spa with time on my hands.  I think in fact I prefer to run late, at least to a spa, so that I can be hit smack in the face with a wave of Enya and incense.  “Hush!” the spa coos.  “Put on a robe and slippers.  Relax.”

And relax I did.  When I arrived, the hottie desk attendant led me on a short and useless tour of the spa.  Why are spas always such labryinths?  I could not have found my way anywhere were it not for Sondra, the ladies’ room attendant, who literally took me by the arm and walked me from the locker room to the lounge.  She then plopped me in an overstuffed chair, brought me a glass of (complimentary, unlimited) wine and urged me to sample the macaroons.

Manny, my male masseuse, met me in the tea lounge to escort me to my massage.  I am not one of those squeamish girls who has to have a female masseuse.  Manny was kind, attentive, and gay enough that I immediately felt we could get drinks after he got off work.  Words cannot describe Manny’s magic hands.  By the end I felt energized, not sleepy, and not sore.  Which was good because I was facing Anna next.

Anna met me in the lounge and escorted me to her waxing station.  Where Manny had been deferential and smooth, Anna was chatty and, after a 60-minute head-to-toe massage, a little overbearing.  But you need someone to take control when it comes to waxing your vagina.  After all, you can’t see down there.  Anna and I exhausted a full range of topics, from children to horror movies, while she yanked and pulled and sang the praises of  a straight line of pubic hair.  I agreed passionately with everything she said, whether I agreed or not.  Mostly, I tried not to tense up.

I gleefully awarded myself with a splash afterward in the Aqua Grotto– a fancy name for a Jacuzzi.  I bathed fully naked while Sondra brought me a second glass of wine pool-side.  I felt like a Roman empress.

Which is precisely the point.

Since many of you have read my rants over the last few months, maybe you want to know how things turned out.  The answer?  Swimmingly.  As we glide by our three-week anniversary, I recall some stand-out events:

Wednesday, September 29th

4:00  My best friend arrives from Minneapolis.  Cheerful, loud reunion ensues at Atlantic Terminal.  She then spends the next couple of days making herself generally indispensable, picking just the right amount of ribbon for the bouquets, writing out 100 programs by hand, even parallel parking my sister’s car.  I  began to wonder if I shouldn’t marry her instead.

 

Thursday, September 30th

7:00 Dinner at Junior’s with family:  me, my mother, two of my sisters, one boyfriend, five cousins, my then-fiance and my best friend.  Junior’s didn’t know what hit them.  My sister and her husband meet us at our apartment later along with their toddler son.  Everyone pretends to enjoy the cupcakes I baked and decorated to look like pumpkins.  (They don’t.)  Later, mom and sisters depart for Harlem while four of my cousins: our flower girl, her sister and parents, camp out in our living room.

Friday, October 1st

3:00 AM.  I wake up and lie awake for three hours stressing over last-minute details.  “Does the catering manager have an updated copy of the seating chart?  What if people get lost on their way to Bear Mountain?”  And so on and so forth.  This episode is outlined in another blog.

6:30 AM Arrive at Lucky Lotus for 90 minutes’ worth of Mysore Ashtanga.  Relief.

5:00 PM  Get call from fiance that goes something like this:

Him:  Hi, baby, do you want the good news or the bad news?

Me:  The bad news.  Then you can cheer me up with the good.

Him:  Um, okay… the good news is I’m having a lot of fun with my friends right now.

Me:   And the bad news?

Him:  Deon [his Southern Baptist preacher nephew who was marrying us] is in the hospital and can’t come to the wedding.

9:00 PM  Drink way too much at Arriba Arriba with White Chocolate Wedding choir (my friends) and groomsmen, as well as my uncle, his boyfriend, my sister and my cousin.

Saturday, October 2nd

4:00 PM  Fiance arrives at Bear Mountain only to discover that the cabin he and his groomsmen were supposed to share is no longer available, and that his party has been split into various other cabins or rooms at the Lodge.  Furious, he manages to get all of their rooms for free.  Rehearsal delayed a half an hour.

4:30 PM  At the rehearsal, my Catholic priest uncle, who thankfully was co-officiating with the hospitalized nephew, begins rehearsal minus my uncle, who is supposed to escort me down the aisle, and my cousin, who is supposed to play the guitar.  They are hopelessly lost and have to be rescued by my brother-in-law, missing the entire rehearsal.

7:30 PM Danny Sheeran, proprietor of Sheeran’s Irish Pub, tells us both what lovely families we have and gives us a complimentary bourbon on the rocks.  The rehearsal dinner is a success.

10:00 PM  Fiance presents me with a surprise Kate Spade necklace to wear with my wedding dress.  I had been drooling over it for weeks, but couldn’t afford it.  I am officially the happiest girl on earth.

Sunday, October 3rd:  Wedding Day!

8:00 AM Awakened by loud people having breakfast at the Garrison House, our bed and breakfast.  Pissed.  And cold.  The house is freezing.

9:00 AM Give in to the madness and crawl out of bed.  Proprietor has left champagne and orange juice out in celebration of my wedding day.  Breakfast is mostly packaged breads and cereal.  Sip coffee, decide not to drink champagne until at least noon.

11:30  Admit to cousin I am bored.

12:15 Have mimosa.

2:45  Photographer arrives early.  Shoots pictures of me getting my hair done by my uncle’s boyfriend, who has set up a salon in the dining room.  I have a pixie cut, so hair takes about 5 minutes.

4:40 Arrive at Bear Mountain.  Bedlam ensues:  whose boutonniere is whose, where is my grandmother, we’ve left the veil in the car, et cetera, et cetera.

5:00 Prelude begins.  Mother decides her mother simply can’t wear her fall jacket down the aisle and insists that someone run up to her room to fetch her black pashmina wrap.  I freak out.  (“It’s fine!  She looks fine!  There’s no TIME!”)  After all, the music has started.  My cousin flies upstairs and is back in a flash.  We throw the wrap around Grandma’s shoulders and off she goes.

5:05 Fiance in tears as I walk down the aisle.

5:30 The wedding party dashes to the parking lot to drive down to the lake for pictures before the sun sets.  First words to me from new hubby:  “Baby, that dress is fierce.” We both speak articulate English sprinkled with  music-theatre-gay vocabulary.  ‘Fierce’ is a high compliment.

7:00 Groom and I enter the ballroom to Michael Jackson’s Black or White.  Everyone’s wearing the White Chocolate 2010 buttons we gave out as favors.

8:00 First dance to Fairground Attraction’s Allelujah.  Now I’m in tears.

10:00 College roommate suffers allergic reaction to champagne and her eyes swell up to the size of small potatoes.  College friends, including boys, retire with her to the women’s restroom.

10:45  Family and friends light sparklers, which may or may not be legal in the state of New York, and line up outside as our decorated car pulls up.   We rush out, wave goodbye and collapse into the car.  We pull out and onto 9W only to realize we have no idea where our directions to Cromwell Manor are.

11:30  Fireplace lit, bath filled, champagne popped.  Happily married couple toasts to their future.

Obviously, there isn’t time or interest for me to blog about each detail of my honeymoon.  But for anyone planning on going to Italy, or anyone who is even mildly curious about what exactly my husband and I did for ten days– ooh,  I wrote ‘husband’– listed below are the highlights of our sojourn through Italia.  Lowlights are soon to follow!   Comments and suggestions welcomed, of course.

HIGHLIGHTS

1.  Marcus the Roman Tour Guide. Truth be told, we put very little effort into this honeymoon.  We booked hotels and flights, then went on to worry about things like centerpieces and guitar amps.  So when we got to heavily touristed areas like Rome, we found ourselves having conversations like this:

Me:  Hi, are you able to book us tickets for the Colosseum and the Sistene Chapel?

Concierge:  We are not able to reserve tickets to the Colosseum, ma’am.  You can book them online or wait in line.  The wait usually takes around 90 minutes.

Me:  Ummm, okay.  Can I get online at this hotel?

Concierge:  It costs four Euro for one hour of internet, and 14 Euro for one day.

Me:  Uh-huh.  How about the Sistene Chapel?

Concierge:  The Vatican Museums are best explored with a private guide, ma’am.  We are unable to book tickets in advance.

Me:  (slightly peeved now.  The concierge had easily booked us tickets to two museums in Florence.)  Okay then, how much would it be for a private guide?

Concierge:  Two hundred and thirty Euro for three hours, ma’am.

Me:  I see.

We splurged on the hour’s worth of internet only to find that tickets booked in advance are more than twice the cost of buying them in person.  We decided to get up early and get a head start in line.

We disembarked from the Metro at 11:AM.  Not early by anyone’s standard, except perhaps honeymooning couples.  On emerging from the station, people immediately tried to hustle us, offering tours, trinkets, photo ops.  In this case, we let ourselves be hustled by a very nice American collegiate type who was offering guided tours of the Colosseum for 25 Euro per person, no wait in line.  We took one look at the line, took one look at him, and handed over 50 Euro.  He shepherded us into a group formed approximately three seconds prior led by Marcus.

Oh, Marcus.  Or whatever his name was.  The three seconds we missed happened to be the three seconds that he told us his name, never to be repeated during the course of the tour.  So we named him Marcus accordingly.  Marcus was an attractive, erudite guide who spoke charming English, using phrases such as, “Men and women did not sit together during the gladiators because Roman people were very– how you say– very horny.”  Not only did we learn a lot and chuckle a little throughout Marcus’ tour, but we wouldn’t have known what we were really looking at if it hadn’t been for Marcus.    Taking his tour was one of the best things we did.  The only thing that would’ve improved it is if Marcus had been dressed in a gladiator costume.  I admit to having had one or two impure thoughts where Marcus was involved.

2.  Wine Tasting in the St. Regis Wine Cellar

After a calamitous drive into Rome, we arrived at the posh St. Regis Grand and flopped.  Three hours later we lumbered out of our suite and into the depths of the hotel, which truly was a destination unto itself, as its slogan claims.   From 6:30 to 8:30 the wine cellar was open to guests for what we understood to be a free wine tasting.  Upon discovering it in fact cost 24 Euro, my fiance, who was starting to feel the pinch of his previous “you only get one honeymoon” mentality, asked if it was possible to ‘split’ a tasting.  Given that there was absolutely no one else in the cellar, our waiter complied.  God bless Italy.  Our waiter’s idea of half of a taste was your average American’s idea of half a glass.   Three ‘tastes’ and one complimentary plate of antipasti later (because in Italy it’s uncivilized to drink without something to nibble), we left for dinner significantly tipsy.  The wines were delicious, the atmosphere unforgettable.

3.  MacDario.  Confession:  my husband and I didn’t really like Florence.  The city didn’t seem to make any sense.  The streets collided with each other, the people were cold, and the service perfunctory and rude.  Verbatim conversation:

Waiter:  You speak English?

Us: Yes.

Waiter:  Down the stairs, to the back, first table on your right.  (Walks away.  We descend into the basement only to find the table is not yet clean.  This after a half hour wait.)

The food itself was pretty good.  But overall we found ourselves itching to leave Florence at the end of our time there, with no real interest in coming back.

We picked up a rental car we christened Prudientia and hit the hills– literally.  Tuscan roads have so many twists and turns that we were lucky to make it to Chianti country with limbs intact and breakfast unvomited.  We had been looking for a restaurant run by one Dario Cecchinni, the so-called Butcher of Tuscany.   Because we were only stopping briefly in Panzano on a Monday afternoon, we had to skip his fancy schmancy restaurant and hit up his burger joint, MacDario.  (Get it?  Instead of McDonald’s, MacDario?  Ha, ha.)

We got a little turned around, but with the help of a particularly friendly cleaning lady, we walked through the bowels of Dario’s butcher shop, up a flight of steps and emerged into a dining room packed with people crammed into long rows of tables.  We squeezed in next to a local couple and consulted the menu.  We had only two options:  the “MacDario,” which is Cecchini’s bun-less burger with Tuscan fries and tomato, or the “Welcome,” which was a tasting menu of all sorts of carnivoric delights, including meatloaf, pork sushi, and three other types of meats.  The locals seated next to us recommended ordering one of each and sharing.  A particularly dramatic Italian waiter took our order, and we were off.  Plates of hearty, delicious meat and vegetables were slapped before us as we chatted up the locals and tourists alike.  The people to my left wrote their favorite wineries on the back of a napkin, while the Bostonians on the other side told us about their son, an actor who lived on Adelphi off of DeKalb in Fort Greene.  The food was delicious, the company excellent and we felt truly welcome in Italy.

4. Making Friends in Cortona

We arrived at La Buccaccia in Cortona without a reservation, holding a bottle of Chianti Classico we’d purchased earlier that day.   The owner let us open the wine without charging us a corkage fee, but seated us at the table closest the door, practically on top of an older couple who were finishing up.  I’m not sure who started talking to whom, but before we knew it, we had struck up a conversation with this couple, a soon-to-be-retired lawyer and French teacher who had just purchased a house in Cortona.   Suddenly we were sharing our wine, and the couple, Andrea and Davis, were ordering another round of drinks, then another.  We agreed to meet the next day for lunch.  After five days with only each other to keep company, my husband and I were thrilled with our new friends.  We met the next day for lunch at La Porta in Montechiello, a small town near Pienza, and discussed poetry, language, and the Italian superstition that copper coins deflected bees.  They promised to e-mail my husband (whose e-mail address is simpler than mine).  So far we haven’t heard from them, but I very much hope we do.

Our second friend in Cortona was the night clerk at our Tuscan hotel.  We were forced to migrate to the lobby to get any sort of wireless signal– more specifically to the couch directly in front of the reception desk.  Upon hearing we had spent the day wine tasting in Montepulciano, the clerk graciously offered us a glass of the estate’s wine… and another… and another.  We might have even left with one or two complimentary bottles of the stuff.  We definitely left with a new Facebook friend, our bold 20-something Italian-by-way-of-Albania declaring that she wanted a black boyfriend just like my new husband.  We may or may not have offered her space on our couch in the event that she came to New York.  And we may or may not have tried to interest her in a few of our single friends, black, white or otherwise.  But regardless, we definitely made new friends, found a beloved new restaurant and fell in love with Marcus and the tales he told about a place called Italy and a city called Rome.

The much-anticipated wedding took place this Sunday and it was everything I could’ve dreamed of and more.  After a lot of stress, more than a few tears, and the help of some really amazing people, it all came off without a hitch.

Before we leave for our honeymoon today I had to be sure that the license was sent to the City Clerk’s office.  Given that 100 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to legally marry a black person, I felt that it was important to include the following letter with our license in hopes of changing the current archaic marriage equality laws. (Full disclosure:  I copied most of this from a similar letter at http://www.offbeatbride.com.  I feel given the circumstances that they would not mind.)


I am writing to you to thank you for the opportunity to legally join my partner in marriage. Your office has provided us with the opportunity to protect the family that we will create under the laws of our state. Your staff treated us warmly and the process of obtaining a marriage license was much quicker and simpler than we expected. We thank you for creating a friendly, efficient environment in which we could make one step closer to solemnizing our marriage.

I do, however, want to express a grievance. It saddens me to know that while my partner and I may walk in and go through the process of obtaining a marriage license in an effortless manner, thousands of couples in New York aren’t allowed to.   As I walked away with our marriage certificate, I realized that my partner and I have been given preferential treatment simply because of the fact that I am female and my fiancé is male. If I had walked in with a female partner and applied for a license, we would have been refused. The notion that the State of New York recognizes our relationship as somehow more legitimate than the relationships of same sex couples who are just as committed and have just as great a desire to create a family seems to me an infringement of one of the inalienable rights promised us in the Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness.

I have asked that our officiant include this letter with our Certificate of Marriage in the hopes that my voice may be heard by someone who has the authority to provide the opportunity to marry to all residents of Kings County. I do not feel that my commitment to my partner is in any way threatened or made less legitimate if a same sex couple were to be guaranteed the same rights that we have.  If anything, the great joy that I have upon entering a marriage with my partner has an undercurrent of sadness because we are marrying in a time when our state is denying the joy of marriage to so many. It is my fervent wish that when it is time for our children to walk into your office, they will be waiting in line with couples of all orientations, and they will be greeted with the same warmth that we were given today.


Of all the bridal magazines and blogs I’ve perused over the last year, not one of them warns of the 3:AM anxiety self loathing session that kicks in as the wedding gets closer and closer.

The pattern goes like this:  I have gone to bed completely wiped out an hour or so earlier than normal.  Then I wake up at an hour even a Goth would recognize as the Middle of the Night:  5 AM last night, 3 AM this morning.  The self loathing usually begins with a mental checklist of everything I’ve eaten the day prior.  I have long been a devotee to Weight Watchers, which requires that I consume roughly 600 calories a day– I exaggerate only slightly.  Try consuming 600 calories when one’s extended family comes to town, not the least of which is my best friend from the Midwest, who, due to her interest in keeping me well fed, keeps feeding me protein.  Doesn’t she know that I consist  on mints and caffeine?   To add to my agida, I had lost all my tour weight by August, only to gain five pounds in the two weeks prior to my wedding.

I believe that I have culturally appropriate eating habits.  When I’m depressed, I lose my appetite.  I eat balanced meals when going about what is for the most part a balanced life, minimizing stress with a soothing warm drinks in the winter and low-fat frozen treats in the summer.  And when I am particularly happy, I overeat.   I plan my Weight Watchers diet around little bursts of joy that occur every week at which I tend to indulge:  holidays, birthdays, even book clubs.  This is devastatingly normal.  Every culture across the world throws down enormous meals to celebrate.   And what could be more joyous than having found one’s life partner?  Oh, I know:  getting to throw a fabulous party that everyone you’ve ever loved attends, where you get to wear a fabulous gown, where everyone buys you gifts, and then sends you on a trip to Italy.  I can’t complain.  Life is pretty sweet right now.

Therefore, life wakes me up at 3:AM to remind me of everything that isn’t sweet:  namely, that single slice of bacon I left atop my Junior’s salmon club, the half a chunk of cornbread I ate piping hot, the tablespoon of butter added to an otherwise perfectly healthy order of beans.  Never mind that I haven’t touched the cupcakes I baked for visiting family, never mind that I abstained from all alcohol last night.  I had been snacking on salted cashews.  Do you have any idea how many Points salted cashews are?  (No idea!  So many that I don’t even bother to buy them.  How did they end up in my cupboard?)

While my mind is busy berating itself for a snack choice, guilt over other choices seeps in.  I didn’t put our mothers’ names in the wedding program, for example.  Oops.  I didn’t know I had to do that.  I wonder yet again who passes down these  traditions because now my mother’s feelings are hurt, yet the paper we used for programs costs $15 for 25 sheets and I’ll be damned if I’m printing them out again, never mind the time my friend has spent gluing them together, so Mom’ll have to just live.  Or how about when everyone wanted to order pizza at my house, but I didn’t want 12 people descending upon the tiny, one-bedroom apartment we just cleaned, so I made everybody go to Junior’s instead, but Junior’s is  expensive and everyone’s spent so much money already… I have to make copies of the music for everybody and add one more place card, even though we’re out of cardstock.  I’ll have to use regular paper.  Who is going to be responsible for hanging the programs on backs of chairs?  The ushers?  What time should the ushers get there?  What if we don’t start on time?  What if our first soloist is late?  Then will we skip her solo?  Because we have to be done at 5:30 because we only have an hour’s worth of light to take pictures.  That’s so rude of us to skip her solo, though.  (Because now in my mind’s eye, she’s definitely late.)  But it’s more rude of her to show up late when we’ve asked her to sing and cause us to get backed up so that we can’t take wedding pictures when we only have one hour of our lives in which we can take them…

On and on the mind rants.  By now it’s 4:30.  I know if I stay awake until 6, I can go to yoga at 6:30.  Then I can probably crash around 2:00 for a nap if people will let me crash, but there are so many demands.  I can’t get quiet time, least of all in my own mind, all I can do is crack out the computer at what is now 5:AM in the bathroom so as to not wake up my fiance or the cousins I have sleeping in my living room… which reminds me that my mother said, “Oh, I should’ve stayed here,” as if she were invited to stay here… can you imagine?  She’d be driving me crazy… she’s already driving me crazy from my sister’s apartment in Harlem… she must be driving my sister crazy… I feel bad… I feel bad for admitting my mother drives me crazy, and I feel bad for the sister who’s dealing with her…

The wedding isn’t for three days, I have had family in town for less than 24 hours, and already I am tired.  I feel bad about my mom’s name not being in the program, I feel bad that the brand-new aerobed my cousins are sleeping on smells oddly like cigarette smoke, I feel bad that I made everyone spend money to be here.  But most of all I am tired of feeling bad.  And this discovery breeds a new brand of 5:AM awareness:  I will not enjoy my wedding this way.  I have got to get my mind in order.  I have got to stop feeling guilty.  I have got to stop obsessing over details.  I have to take care of myself and my fiance first, and let others take care of the rest.

Is it 6:AM yet?…

While the waters of gift-giving etiquette remain very difficult to navigate, one wedding by-law remains unchanged:  the RSVP.

For all those who have never planned, like, anything, here’s how it works.  If you’re throwing a party and you don’t want it to be shitty, you pay someone a price per person to host the party for you.  If said party is a wedding reception,  that price tends toward the astronomical.  Maybe you’re kind of a hippie, and you’re like, “We would come to your wedding even if we ate hot dogs all night.”  Okay.  That’s even worse, hippie.  How many hot dogs do you think you’ll eat?  How many people are you bringing to eat hot dogs with you?  Because Lord knows no one can bear to eat hot dogs at a wedding alone, for Chrissakes.   It’s completely rude for the couple hosting the event not to invite some random person they’ve never met that you’ll probably hate in a month to be photographed eating hot dogs and doing the Cupid Shuffle alongside the people you’ve known all your life.  But I digress.  I believe I was saving that rant for ‘The Height of Rudeness, Part Three:  Rudeness on the Part of the Bride.”  Forgive me.

Anyway.  The only way that everyone involved keeps from going crazy is by knowing exactly how many people they can expect to eat hot dogs or filet mignon, as the case may be.   So when we send out an invitation, we include an RSVP.  Said RSVP even includes a stamped envelope so esteemed guest does not have to spend the 44 cents, hunt through her purse, swing by the post office, et cetera, to ensure speedy reply.   Sending back an RSVP falls under the category of what is called a “common courtesy.”  For those unfamiliar with the term “common courtesy,” (ie, an unsettling number of our guests, family members in particular) here is how the phrase is defined at www.urbandictionary.com:

Common Courtesy

a. to be polite and to respond timely to invitations because you shouldn’t be a douchebag and say MAYBE to an invitation because you know people have to fucking cook for a certain amount of people!!!

b. to talk to other guests at a dinner party and not avoiding eye contact and actually listening to the hostess when she says “please sit down”

c. not being a major douchebag

The website www.momversations.com reports that 80 percent of invitations do not receive a reply.  It adds that one step above the non-responders on the annoying-as-hell scale are those that respond at the very last minute.  We would like to add that one step above those people are the ones who have the gall to say, “But you know we’re coming.”

Um, actually, no, we don’t.  Anyone who has planned a wedding will testify that the gifts on the doorstep aren’t the only surprises.  We frequently open the responses of people we thought were definitely attending who ultimately aren’t able to make it.

If our wedding is any indication, men and women neglect their RSVPs on a pretty even scale.  So do blacks and whites.  Homosexuals, unfortunately, are the only group to come out (no pun intended) with egg on their proverbially pretty faces.   Sixty-eight percent of our gays have not yet responded or responded at the last minute, compared to just 25 percent of our breeders.

Sigh.  Maybe gays will get it when they’re the ones getting married.

Until then, we are forced to hound our guests.  We call, text or Facebook to find out who’s coming and what they want to eat.  This is considered by some to be poor manners, of course.    But while much wedding etiquette is bullshit, some of it is just common courtesy.

My college roommate got married over the weekend, and I did what has become unthinkable:  I brought a gift.

With online registries promising quick and easy delivery straight to the lucky couple’s front door, the erstwhile gift table has shrunk to house one small box, usually with a slit cut into the top for check-bearing cards.  No one brings a gift to the proceedings anymore.  Who would be so gauche?  I would.

I am also the type to leave said gift, carefully wrapped in gold “they-can-use-it-again” wrapping paper and a reused Bed, Bath and Beyond box, safely encased in the trunk of a rented Toyota for the duration of the ceremony and reception, forcing me to hand it to the groom as he returned to the Courtyard Marriott post-celebration.

With the exception of my lone gift box, I only saw one other person with an actual wrapped package.  I am beginning to suspect that the good, old-fashioned practice of bringing a gift to a wedding has become horribly passe, due mostly to the convenience of the aforementioned registries, leaving slightly dopey people such as myself feeling  sort of silly and a little guilty bringing an actual gift.  After all, having schlepped said gift from Brooklyn to New Jersey,  wasn’t I ultimately making someone haul the thing back to my friends’ home in Hoboken?  I also felt guilty that my gift of linen napkins was so impersonal, even if linen napkins are more environmentally friendly than the run-of-the-mill paper variety.  I began to wonder why I hadn’t registered for any myself.   But I doubt anyone would give us linen napkins, even if I did want them in the first place, which, on proper introspection, I don’t.  Because it’s easier for people to throw up their hands and just give cash.  Is it any wonder in this day and age that the gift table has gone the way of the dinosaur?

My own randomly compiled registries remain mostly unfulfilled, despite the protestations of my mother and sisters that we hadn’t “registered for enough.”  Granted, our wedding isn’t for three weeks.  But then again, our wedding is in three weeks.  I didn’t want to buy my roommate linen napkins and a table runner.  But it was the only thing left on her registry a month before the wedding.  But I’m told not to worry about our registry.  “People have a year to buy you a gift,” I am told.  “Even if they don’t come to the wedding, those invited will  still send you a gift.”

Really?  They will?  And one year?  Really?  I find myself thinking, not for the first time, who makes up these rules?  And who is responsible for telling each passing generation what the rules are?  Allow me to stress:  I am happy to get any gift.  My fiance and I have had a wonderful summer of surprises literally waiting on our doorstep.  But I am also racked with guilt over past behavior.  Did I get Doug and Kimberly a gift?  I can’t remember.  How about Fran and Noah?  I was invited to Steph’s bridal shower, but I couldn’t go, so I didn’t get her anything.  How are we still friends?  I have literally sat down to drinks with old friends and within an hour realized I owed them a gift for something.  If  you are reading this, and I owe you a gift, please let me know!  Meanwhile, I learn the rules as I go, as I guess we all do.  At this rate, I’m going to be kick-ass by 50.

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