My sister and I compared notes this week on weddings we attended over the long Labor Day weekend; she was in Dallas and I, in Houston. The similarities were remarkable. After comparing notes, we realized that certain things are “a thing” for wedding celebrations these days. And we couldn’t help but laugh about how primitive our celebrations of our marital unions were so many years ago.
First, upon checking into our hotels, we both received fun “welcome” bags from the bride and groom. Both contained beautifully printed booklets with the happy couple’s recommendations of things to do and favorite restaurants in the vicinity, as well as bottled water with the couple’s monogram in place of the Ozarka sticker. How do they do that? Both contained homemade snacks, her’s spicy pecans, mine two heart-shaped sugar cookies, iced in pink (for the bride), and blue (for the groom). I ate both of them before my husband even realized they were in the bag. Often these welcome packages include Emergen-C or Advil, giving the impression that a good time is definitely going to be had by all. My clever nephew and his bride included monogrammed beer koozies embossed with their wedding date; my sister’s hosts included plastic stemless wine glasses in her bag. My sister and I recalled that when we married in Cuero, Texas, the only place to stay was The Antler Inn and we were happy to provide its toll-free phone number to our relatives and guests.
Next, we compared ceremonies. The number of attendants was large: 28 in the Houston wedding, plus 6 ushers and 6 “house party” girls in long black gowns. That also seems to be a recent thing: honoring the house party with a gown and/or a gift, and no real job for them to perform. The people in my house party were my mom’s friends, who were assigned to thirty-minute sessions at the punch bowl. But, that was 1984…
On to the reception. My sister and I both noted that upon arriving at the reception, we were corralled into a rather small area outside the main party room for an hour or so. Luckily, we were offered cocktails, her bride had a few “signature cocktails” presented by the waitstaff; mine offered Chardonnay and champagne, two of my faves. After a requisite period of anxious anticipation, the doors to the main ballroom flung open and we all grabbed a seat. Sis was served table side, I served myself at a fabulous buffet. We both noted that the first band played soft jazz and Sinatra while the bride danced with her groom and her father, and continued playing through dinner, then, a fun party band got guests onto the dance floor. We both noticed that bands today appear to be interactive; they like to jump from the stage and approach the partygoers with the microphone or an instrument. Picture a Tina Turner look-alike jumping around the room singing “Proud Mary,” and handing off the mike for every other “Rollin’.” “Rollin‘ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ Rolling on the Riiiiver.” When it was time for the bride to throw her bouquet, the female lead singer asked for all the bridesmaids to come forward and the band began playing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” to the roar of the ‘maids’ singing/yelling, “If you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it,” almost angrily. Their left hands flapped back and forth while the groomsmen looked on, terrified. This particular wedding season has the usual musical selections, The Electric Slide and the ever-popular Love Shack, as well as a new romantic standard, “Shut Up and Dance.” My sister and I recalled that back in the day, our parents hosted a lovely reception with some h’ors d’oeuvres, including a veggie tray and possibly some shrimp cocktail, some alcoholic beverages, OF COURSE, and maybe a local combo for some background music. Sadly, that’s all we could remember of our receptions, other than lots of friends, family, pictures, and…a receiving line.
Next, my sister said, “You’ll never believe it, but there was an artist sitting on the outskirts of the dance floor, painting an impressionistic view of the reception.” OMG, I replied, we had the same thing in Houston! At this point, I felt like we were playing a game of “Can you top this?” But, really, there was an artist at both weddings. She won, though, because between band sets at the Dallas wedding reception, there were tap dancers. Oh my! Again, we could recall no real entertainment at our weddings except for the excitement of our new husbands feeding us cake, then we threw our bouquets, followed by the toss o’ the garter, and the grand finale, the run to our getaway car, decorated with shaving cream and tin cans tied to the bumper.
Finally, today’s weddings have hashtags, so that guests can take pictures all weekend and share them via Twitter or Instagram with the social-media-savvy bride and groom. #TwasaGoodKnight (for Mr. & Mrs. Knight), or #RuizPartyof2. Darn, I missed all this fun when I married 31 years ago. #Getmetothekirkontime. That would have been a good one!