April 18, 2009.
I have been in several weddings. Always a groomsman, never a groom. Not intentionally, I picked a different tuxedo than my groomsmen wore. My tuxedo (which is actually a dinner jacket) is inspired by Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) which I saw when I was twelve and decided the first time I get to choose a tuxedo, that’s the one I am getting. I was too young to know Ford wore it because Humphrey Bogart wore it in Casablanca.
Everybody else got to wear black.
As we walked through the hallways, past the vacationers, I found people would step aside. I don’t mean step to their side of the hallway. I mean they stepped to the side, stopped and watched us pass. I noticed standing in the lobby people on the higher floors looking down watching us. Watching me.
And I think I may understand what the big deal is about the dress.
A wedding dress is one, if not the most, defining articles of clothing a woman will ever wear. If all goes according to plan, she’ll wear it once, in a room full of people with no one looking as elegant as she does. She will be the center of that room.
When people see a bunch of men in black tuxes and I am the guy wearing white, it no mystery I’m the one getting married.
And for a few minutes, I was the center of the lobby. And it was nice.
Then in the corner of my eye I could see the bridesmaids enter and I knew Natalie wasn’t far behind and soon the lobby would belong to her. Danielle motioned me forward and all the people around her disappeared. I walked to a hallway and there she was, standing there waiting for me. Somebody could have set fire to me and it would have taken me ten minutes to notice. We spoke briefly. I’d like to pretend what we said was something private and for ourselves like something Bill Murray would whisper to Scarlett Johansson in Tokyo…
…but honestly, I can’t remember what we said to each other. At some point we were escorted outside where we’d have our pictures taken over the next hour. From outside, I could see curtains pull back and hotel guests watching us. Occasionally, it’d be our guests.
We’re escorted to a small room inside the hotel lobby adjacent to where the ceremony will be held. The room consists of Natalie and myself, the six members of the wedding party, three parents, two grandparents, my nephew and Cindy Chang who, even though it’s been explained to me, am not sure of what function she performed but I can tell you she does take great pictures. We all sat around that table for what seemed like an hour attempting not to get wrinkled. All of us except Natalie who stood in a corner turning down offers of drinks and snacks. Much like myself she did this because she knew what it took to get into that dress and wasn’t about to come out of it.
I picture Natalie hoisted in the air in a series of harnesses while three bridesmaids and her mother strap her into that dress much like Tony Stark gets dressed.
Danielle pops her head in and calls me out. She introduces me to Mike, the hotel’s event liaison. He tells me the table count for one of the tables is three more than we instructed them. He can bring three more chairs but they won’t have seat covers. I tell him I don’t care. Just make it happen. In the background Kendra is going over the guest list and finds three no-shows and sends her boyfriend/bodyguard Sean (former bouncer, all six-six three bills of him) to tell Mike. He does.
Danielle calls for Tony who three minutes later is calling for me. The DJ dropped his laptop at the club last night and hadn’t booted it since. It isn’t booting. Tony asks can he borrow my laptop if he can’t get it working. I have Yuri give him my room key. A minute later Tony tells me his laptop booted and is fine.
I ask him to make sure the DJ got the email we sent him two days ago with the audio our singer, Deatra Gilmore, will be performing at the ceremony. He says, “No.” I send Tony to my room for my thumb drive with the songs on it.
Later I would be told the audio rental place didn’t give the DJ the proper wires and he sent his assistant to Radio Shack so he could hook up the speakers.
All the while Natalie was standing in a corner trying not to sweat while the rest of us huddled around a table like Twelve Angry Men.
Danielle pops her head in. “We’re ready.”
We’re escorted out into an empty lobby that was full of people ten minutes ago. We line up and the door opens. I don’t know how celebrities do it but I detest having my picture taken, something I have worked on for the past few years. Someone told me a few weeks ago in the plethora of advice I’d gotten about weddings and marriage that you’ll have your picture taken more on this day than you have in the past decade. This would be true.
As I escort my mother down the aisle I concentrate on moving slow, don’t trip, don’t leave your mom behind like I left Danielle’s sister behind at her wedding. She’s nervous and she’s clinging to me. Halfway down the aisle I can hear the music that has been playing us in, Hans Zimmer’s “You’re So Cool” (the opening theme from the film True Romance (1994)). At the altar we light a candle for my deceased father and take our places. Everyone enters, her father circles around and is the last one in as the doors close.
One of the key images in my head is her father staring at his shoes waiting for that door to open and his daughter, the woman who in twenty minutes will be my wife, to make her entrance.
Natalie’s mother stands and the plan is everyone is supposed to follow her lead and stand after her, a point that was brought up in rehearsal and someone Natalie believed would happen spontaneously. I disagreed because I believe people need to be pushed in a direction. Natalie believed because she also thinks people will burst into spontaneous choreographed dancing which is what watching too many Audrey Hepburn movies will get you.
I motion for the confused crowd to stand and they do and the door opens.