April 18, 2009.
I wake up the morning of my wedding next to a man. This is no surprise and in speaking to former grooms I find this fairly common. You go somewhere for your wedding and are in a hotel room you split with your groomsman, brother, friends, family, whatever.
I will say that Tony Lipari doesn’t snore, is generous with the blankets and his Catholic nature keeps him on his side of the bed.
It’s 6:00a. I lie there a few minutes and accept that I’m up. I quietly fumble through my bags and find my Playstation Portable and go to the bathroom where I play Pac-Man and Galaga for about twenty minutes and decide I need to find something to do. My brother calls me from down the hall and obviously his family is up and moving. They tell me to meet them in their room and we can get breakfast.
Natalie picked the hotel we’re getting married in because it’s close to the airport (which provides a shuttle for guests) and within walking distance of several restaurants including the Denny’s I find myself at.
I ordered the Moon Over My Hammy sandwich partly because I wanted something light but mostly because every time I said the name it made me chuckle. I decided I wanted to eat as little as possible since I have heard stories, one in particular from Jon and Amy, of people who were so busy at their wedding they didn’t have a chance to eat. In Jon and Amy’s story it actually ends with them changing clothes and going to Bennigan’s for ribs the night of their wedding.
“This is your last breakfast as a bachelor,” Danielle tells me. She’ll repeat this phrase several times during the day changing the event.
“This is your last check you’ll ever pay as a bachelor.”
“This is the last time you’ll kiss your mother a bachelor.”
“This is the last underage hooker you’ll have to choke for laughing at you as a bachelor.”
That last one I made up.
Bobby forgot t-shirts so we make a decision to find a Target. I promise my photographer Mike I would pick up another battery for the camera. Tony also needs a few things. Danielle specifically tells us all to be back at the hotel by noon. We have pictures at 2:00p. Danny Gimenez, husband of Officiant Stephanie Seguin, stops me at the front desk.
He stands shoulders sloping in and slightly awkward and although he’s a grown man, he’s very boyish. His unkempt facial hair doesn’t hide this. If I didn’t know better I would think he’s around to ask me to prom. “Jim. I don’t know if you know this or not somebody always forgets something at a wedding. I’m the guy who fixes that. If you need anything, someone to run an errand, do something at the service, I’m that guy.”
I thank him and tell him it’s all under control but I appreciate the offer and we’re off to find a Target. Three stops later we have camera batteries, t-shirts and a spiffy fedora for my nephew who refuses to wear it until my brother, Tony and myself plead with him.
It’s cool. It’s so frickin’ cool.
Danielle calls looking for us. This is the first of many calls I am going to get from Danielle for questions I don’t have the answer to. Her call is immediately followed by Natalie asking if we have any pictures that can go in the matted frames we’re having people sign instead of registers. I tell her I’ll figure it out.
I call Danny Gimenez. He’s in a car with Stephanie going to visit her brother. I tell her I am going to email her a picture and I need her to get to a Walgreens, a Walmart, a Kinkos, whatever and print two out.
A moment about that. I like backups. I like backup plans. I don’t like surprises. I told Natalie on the phone before I came I took all the critical documents, guest lists, songs, table cards and put them on the thumb drive that’s kept on my keychain. She assures me I won’t need any of this. This is what I’ll be thinking of as I email our engagement photos to Danny.
We’re back at the hotel at five minutes after noon. Tony and I get to the room to find Yuri and his wife Deanna still asleep.
Judas Priest… what the hell?
I open the blinds like Eileen Brennan…
…and wake them both with two words:
Only three straight men can get ready for a wedding in a room with one bathroom in less than an hour.
We check each other to make sure we look okay. We take turns putting on each other’s cufflinks and adjusting vests. At some point when I am not looking, Yuri becomes my body man.
(In a Venezuelan accent): Nobody wears a jacket. I want all the jackets in this carrier. We’ll put them on when we get there. Jimmy, what have you got in your pockets? Give me your keys, your driver’s license and your credit cards, you won’t need them. Tony, you bring the car around. I’ll get his bag. Let’s go.
We walk through the lobby of the hotel, men in tuxedos. I’m given a key to a suite for us to wait in. We spread out jackets on the bed and I send Yuri and Tony down to the lobby business center to print out my vows which I have forgotten.
Ten minutes later they return and tell me, “Natalie is coming down. The photographer told us we couldn’t be in the lobby… or in the hallways. Natalie said so.” The three of us sit in the room staring at each other. Periodically my phone would alert me with tentative updates.
The flowers have arrived.
The cake has arrived.
The DJ has arrived.
Yuri offers to find me some bottled water and attempts to close the blinds so we don’t see Natalie who’s having pictures taken in the area outside our window. It seems like I get a phone call from Danielle every three minutes. Kendra, another one of my friends who’s volunteered to be her assistant, comes to the room to get the camera batteries and photos and take them downstairs. We keep waiting.
My phone rings. “Be ready in ten minutes.”