My Best Friends WeddingS
My Time As A "Friend" Of Honor And Then The Minister!
Wedding Number One
My dear friend from high school informed me that not only was she getting married but that she was also converting to Judaism. Now this was a bit of a shock considering her Scandinavian roots and the fact her parents were devout atheists. While exposing their children to all sorts of different religions to let their children make up their own mind on religion when they saw fit, I'm sure my pal's parents had no idea they'd end up with one daughter a Mormon, one a Jew and the rest somewhere in between.
So, when it came time for my pal, Jodie, to get married she needed a "practicing Jew" (I immediately told her, "Listen honey, I was born a Jew, I don't have to practice - you're a convert, YOU have to practice!"). She needed someone Jewish to stand up under the chuppa with her and I was it. That's right, I had become, The Maid of Honor!
I know, I know, resist the urge to think that I donned a dress of ruffle and lace proportion - I didn't. I wore a tux and looked damn good.
The wedding was in La Jolla and I lived out of town, so I couldn't plan all the events normally associated with a Maid of Honor. I relied on her local friends to take care of such things as the Bachelorette party. However, upon arriving in town, my dance card was full with activities. I attended the bridesmaid's day of beauty at a local salon having myself mani'd and pedi'd with the rest of the gals (foregoing the "updo" for obvious reasons). I bought the rose petals for the runway, I mean, runner. I placed the temporary wedding night "surprise" tattoo on the bride-to-be's upper thigh and even had the dreaded task of buttoning the seventeen hundred buttons that went up the back of the damn dress.
The wedding was beautiful and as we stood in the receiving line, getting very tired of explaining what my position was at this wedding, I chose instead to make sure the three thousand foot train was out from under Jodie's albeit small but clumsy feet. It was amazing how many times Jodie and I had to explain to everyone about me being, The "Friend" of Honor. At one point, a boy of about eight came through the line, looking just as confused as the rest of the wedding attendees and said, "Did you make that dress?" Even an eight year old has the ability to sniff out the homosexual!
On to the reception at a very trendy spot in La Jolla where the groom's brother's band played and the groom and bride sang - are you getting that this was a very theatrical wedding?
Suddenly Jodie approached me with the dreaded statement, "My half slip is slipping down, you are going to have to come to the bathroom with me and undo the dress so that I can pull it up and then re-button the dress up." (Now for those of you who don't know, the "half slip" is like a silky skirt under the dress with an elastic waistband.) I knew there was no way I was going to take my fingers that were already "smarting" and do then re-do those God Damned buttons. I had to MacGuyver it or at least think of something that didn't involve the buttons. I moved Jodie out into the hall where the servers were busying themselves getting things from the kitchen and taking them out to the guests. Ah ha! It hit me, this dress had a sweetheart neckline, and if I could get my hand between her breasts and find my way to the slip I could pull it up from the top. Brilliant!
About this time we hear the Best Man get up on the stage dedicating a song to Jodie and her new husband. The song for some unknown reason was "Bye, Bye Blackbird". I looked at Jodie and said, "What the hell kind of song is that to sing at a wedding?" She just gave me one of those looks that let me know that she was about to kill me for bringing up this inconsequential thing when she needed help. So we're in the hall and we know people are going to start looking for the bride. In I go, right between the breasts and as I reach the slipping slip, we hear the Best Man singing a re-worded, "Sugar's sweet, so is Jod. Bye, Bye, Blackbird." I've got the slip; now the only thing I need to do is pull. And so I begin pulling and pulling and Jodie is jumping, why I don't know but she thought it would help and then we both look over, there is a crowd of servers and kitchen staff with stunned expressions on their faces, looking at this guy (me) with his hand down the front of the bride's dress! I resisted the urge to say, "Nothing to see here, move along" and got back to finishing the task at hand.
By the end of the song, we had returned from the hall, slip in place and a new respect from all of the servers in the place!
The marriage was a happy one and produced sons. It was always fun to relive the zany antics of the wedding week we had and explain to the boys why I was the Maid of Honor (some things never change). Unfortunately, Jodie's husband passed away after a long illness and she was left, as many are to face life with her sons and herself with no husband beside her... for now.
Wedding Number Two
Flash forward to many years later. Jodie moved back to Arizona, where we had spent our childhood and we had met some thirty years earlier. The boys were getting older and Jodie had found the new man of her dreams although this time, he was not Jewish. (Funny, he looks Jewish!)
It's January and we were sitting in a very conservative synagogue in La Jolla watching Jodie's eldest be bar mitzvah. An emotional day, being back in the same synagogue where Jodie was married, her new fiancé taking it all in stride, being a gallant gentlemen, going along with everything we throw at him. Jodie and her fiancé plan to be married in April. As the rabbi is leading the congregation, it hits me, I lean over to Jodie and say, "I should get ordained and marry you." Well come on, I have to think of my own friend-career advancement!
Being the Maid of Honor at the first wedding and as I would never be the groom, there was only one way to move up and that was to become the Officiant! I was kind of joking but Jodie and her new mate were delighted so as soon as I came home, I got online to find out about what I would have to do to become a (I can hear my mother's heart breaking a little) minister.
I was amazed to see how many different options there are for becoming a minister or officiant, as it were. You can be ordained for free but on some sites, if you pay a little extra you can get the "clergy" stickers for you car and if you buy the deluxe package you even get a DVD that walks you through setting up your own non-profit church. Let's face it, even though I did it - it seems way too easy to do it and a little not right, even to me. Some found it disgusting that I would do it and my mother just wanted to know if I was going to change careers or at least moonlight at one of the hundreds of chapels here in Vegas.
Finally the wedding weekend was upon us. We had decided on a ceremony and were good to go. Due to my schedule, I was only able to get there the day before, Saturday, in time for the rehearsal dinner.
Now for those of you who may never be in a wedding party, let me give you some advice - do whatever it takes to be at the rehearsal dinner. There are several reasons for this, 1) the food is always better, 2) there are less people so it's kind of like a mini-wedding with just the cool kids, 3) any anxiety or crazy behavior is going to start exhibiting itself at this event so you know who to keep your eyes on the next day at the wedding, 4) you get to really size up the other side and decide if your friend/relative is marrying into the loony bin and 5) you can advert almost any crisis - that is, if you're me.
And so it would come to pass that at the rehearsal dinner there was a crisis that needed to be adverted at any cost. Jodie was in her room modeling THE dress for her friends from San Diego that she had made by some local seamstress. One of the ladies had the presence of mind to tell me to walk in and take a look at the dress. Now let me say that the cascading button dress from Jodie's first wedding was some bazillion dollar dress and Jodie wanted to go much more simple for this one and spend a lot less money. When I walked in, I couldn't believe my eyes. Surely this was a joke dress, not the real thing? It looked like a dingy grey colored, chiffon covered, mother-in-law of a hated bride, turd. There, I've said it. It was awful. It even included a chiffon rose at the hip and one long piece of chiffon that hung down going nowhere just for show. I tried to go back to my acting roots but Jodie knew me too well. She said, "It was supposed to be champagne colored. That's what I picked out on the swatch." Oh Lord, it was champagne colored all right, the color of champagne after you've thrown it up!
As her friends tried to convince her that it was okay, Jodie played with the hanging piece, making it a scarf, a brooch, and a pterodactyl. Jodie was going to alter it herself a little that night she said but from my point of view, there was no way to make this dress work. I refused to have it be in my first (and probably only) wedding I would officiate!!
It was Saturday night and I told her that I would pick her up Sunday morning at 10am (even though stores didn't open until 11am and most at noon) we would have time to get coffee and create a strategy, shop for a dress, be back at her house by 2pm for the hair and makeup people and be right on track to attend the wedding at 5:30pm, arriving at 5pm for pictures.
Sunday morning and I was on fire. I even surprised myself. Lucky for us, it was April, which is prom season so there were more dresses than normal in the major department stores. In the first store we found a dress or two but neither of us was that impressed, it was noon and we moved on to Macy's that had just opened into a department named, "Women's Better Dresses". Jodie was picking out all the wrong things when suddenly, there it was, I saw it, it was an almost white but not quite white dress made from a satin that was the texture of grosgrain ribbon. There was only one of them, it had a train and I took this wholly grail over to Jodie, asking the sales woman (no doubt in her nineties) to hold my Venti latte. Jodie was concerned that it didn't show her breasts as it had a higher neckline than she had envisioned but as I'd done so many times in our times together, I looked her in the face and said, "Shut the fuck up and put this on before I beat the shit out of you." Looking over my shoulder at the shocked sales woman holding my coffee, I changed like Sybil to all lightness saying, "We've know each other for years and we're shopping for her wedding dress. The wedding? Oh, it's today at 5pm." As I walked into the women's dressing room, the sales woman gently held out my coffee and then silently backed away to the safety of her sales counter with an expression of shock and disgust all at the same time painted on her face (painted no doubt from the Lancome counter downstairs).
The minute she put the dress on, well, okay, before she even put it on, I knew it was THE dress. She began to hem and haw, talking about the other dress at home when I did the two things you should always do when trying to talk sense to a heterosexual, sort of Jewish, female. I looked at the size of the dress; it said it was a four (now Jodie was no four but this dressmaker knew what he was doing by putting that size number on this dress) and then I looked at the price; it had been reduced I guess from the season before and was an amazing $50. Here it was, a designer dress that fit her like it was made for her and it was only fifty bucks! I told her I was buying it for her and we left the store. I'm not sure that sales woman will ever be the same. God rest her soul.
And so we raced back to Jodie's, calling her mother to meet us at the house and we managed to get there by 1:30pm, a full half an hour mind you before hair and makeup. Her mother saw the dress and loved it, her sister-in-law saw the dress and loved it and I finally said in my most loving of tones, as I was walking out the door headed to my hotel to get showered and dressed, "You're wearing that fucking dress and that's all there is to it. Throw that other piece of shit away."
We didn't tell her friends from San Diego about the dress switcheroo, we wanted it to be a surprise and so it was. When Jodie walked out you could almost hear an audible sigh of relief from anyone who had seen the chiffon turd dress. The ceremony went off without a hitch in a botanical garden at sunset.
As we were getting Jodie ready to board her new husband's top of the line Harley Davidson to go to the reception, one of her affluent, fashion forward friends stopped me and inquired, "How did you do it? How did you get that dress? On a Sunday? The day of the wedding? And it looks as though it was made just for Jodie?" I lifted my head (as the light was fading and I wanted to have my eyes in the key light), took a small intake of the botanical air and then looked her straight in the eye and said, "This is what I do." About then a cloud of dust created by the Harley pulling away covered us and we walked silently to our cars to go to the reception. My work here was done.
Read more Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com