A Quick "I Do" ... and the Real Wedding


            Yeah, so, I got married.
            On a related note, I’m getting married next year.
            Oh, relax; I’m not taking up polygamy. I don’t have the energy for that. Can you imagine how exhausting it must be, to try and keep up with more than one wife? Even if they knew about each other … if they didn’t, it would be even more of a challenge. What would happen to some poor guy with five wives if it’s really true about women who live together all getting on the same cycle? I’m not talking bikes, either.
            Sudden death, that’s what would happen.
            I was engaged for exactly two years to a woman who’s wonderful, sweet, sexy, smart, and reads this column. For several reasons, including her college education and scheduling, we didn’t go ahead.
            Have you ever tried to plan a wedding?  I’m working on a novel in which one of the characters is an amateur wedding planner, so I did a lot of research. Men think all they have to do is show up without getting food on their tuxes. I thought a boutonniere was a pirate’s footwear. Many women, on the other hand, spend years planning their wedding, even if they aren’t even in one.
            It turns out that – as in most other ways – women know better. But with Emily’s full time college schedule and internship, and my book releases, it was impossible to get stuff done.
            Then came the question of where to have it: Her family lives in southeast Missouri, mine in northern Indiana. That’s over 500 miles, assuming you don’t get lost circling Indianapolis.
            I won’t go into all the reasons why we decided to have the wedding in Missouri, but in my mind weddings are for the bride. Remember: Her, fourteen years of detailed charts and outlines. Him, getting his shoes polished and putting on clean underwear. Maybe just the shoes.
            (In our case we were hobbled by the fact that Emily’s an exception to the rule – she’s one of those modern females who did not sit around planning her dream wedding. When it comes to wedding planning, this put us on an equal footing: both clueless.)
            A Missouri wedding presented problems, though. Emily is up here, and lots of stuff has to get done down there. Planning a wedding from a distance is like describing the taste of chocolate: Something’s bound to get lost in translation.
            Second, some of my relatives probably wouldn’t be able to make the trip. My grandmother, for instance, is by definition the grandmotherly type … although she’s probably in better shape than I am, something I’d just as soon not admit.
            The biggest problem remained time, and it became obvious we wouldn’t be able to plan the wedding we wanted until at least six months after she got out of school … in other words, the summer of 2013. That would be over three year’s engagement. Most modern celebrities don’t stay famous that long.
            “But,” I whined, “I want to get it over with! I mean, I want to start our married life now!”
            There are practical matters to consider. First, if I was hospitalized without being married she might not be able to see me, or learn of my condition. She was afraid I’d get hurt in a fire, which is just silly: It’s at home where I get injured.
            Second, getting married in Missouri while living in Indiana presented bureaucratic problems that I’d just as soon not face, not to mention higher cost. I’m cheap.
            Third, getting married gets her on my insurance, and she’s almost as accident prone as I am.
            The solution was obvious: Have a real wedding in the summer of 2013, but have a legal wedding to satisfy the paper-pushers on March 5th, 2012. Plain, simple, easily understood, right?
            Nobody got it.
            We would go to the Clerk’s office for a quick “I do”, and that would be that. Then would come the real wedding in Missouri, followed by another reception in Indiana for those who couldn’t make it down.
            But the Clerk doesn’t do weddings, so my oldest daughter came up with another idea: To have her grandfather, who I have always referred to as “The Judge”, perform the wedding. I thought this might be awkward, as The Judge is the father of my ex-wife, but he’s also the nicest guy I’ve ever met and so he quickly said yes.
            That’s when things started spiraling out of control.
            The wedding would be at Charis’ house, and the guest would include her, my other daughter Jillian, and my mother and grandmother, because they might not be able to make it down to Missouri. And Charis’ husband and my grandkids, because it would be at their house.
            And my brother, because I asked him to be best man and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to make it down. There was no guest “list”, but we ended up with fifteen adults and children. That’s where I drew the line, because if everybody who might not be able to make it to the real wedding showed up, it would be the real wedding. Besides, all we were going to do was wander into the living room, say a few words, shake hands, and it would be over.

            Then came the lasagna dinner (Thanks, Vince!). The wedding arch. A cake-shaped cupcake “tree” (best cupcakes I’ve ever had, by the way – thanks, Mom). The bouquet Charis brought (Thanks, Charis!)
            Most dressed up, even though we told them not to. Because I’m wearing my Class A fire department dress uniform to the real wedding, I wore my Class B casual uniform to this wedding, a kind of symbolic thing.
            And that was it. This is the way weddings should go.
            But that’s not the way the Real Wedding will go … if I’m going to do this twice, I’m going to do it with style. So don’t think you missed anything – this was just phase one.