- Don’t have a big rehearsal dinner/ party the night before the wedding.
- If you must disregard Rule #1, do not serve alcohol at the party the night before the wedding.
- If you must disregard Rule #1 AND #2, do not have a morning wedding.
- If you must disregard Rules #1, #2, AND #3 absolutely DO NOT have an open bar at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.
- If you must disregard Rules #1, #2, #3, AND #4 make sure no members of your wedding party have recently turned 21.
- If you are seriously such a fool as to ignore Rules #1, #2, #3, #4, AND #5 there’s no chance you’ll pay attention to this one, but I’ll give it to you anyway. For God’s sake, do not schedule your only wedding rehearsal with the minister AFTER the open bar at the party the night before your morning wedding.
- If you disregarded Rules 1-6, you are an idiot.
And, yeah, you’re in good company.
Or at least my company.
The road to hell started with our intention to show our guests appreciation for coming all the way from England, the West Coast, Hawaii, and Florida. Sure, the fall leaves of Nowhere, New England are gorgeous in early October, but there’s not much in the way of nightlife (not unless you count owls and fisher cats). So instead of having a traditional rehearsal dinner, my Chinese-American fiancé and I opted to have a pre-wedding party for all our guests. We rented a renovated steamboat on Lake Nowhere and had a catered dinner. Andy winced at the cost (okay, actually ran out of the meeting with the coordinator and threw up), but we’d been to 9 weddings the year before and we KNEW what a pain in the ass it was to traverse a continent or an ocean, or both. We wanted everyone to have a great time.
We disregarded Rule #1, because most of the guests did not arrive until the day before the wedding.
We disregarded Rule #3 because a morning wedding would better accommodate guests with younger children, some of whom were only driving up for the day.
The breaking of Rules 2 & 4 were all Andy. I don’t drink, but Andy loves his bourbon and beer. And he HATES having to pull out his wallet at weddings. A cash bar, in Andy’s opinion, is some piss poor hospitality. So open bar it was.
Breaking Rule #5 was Andy’s parents fault. They needed the “Lucky 8 Attendants.” So our wedding party encompassed all of our siblings and then some. This turned out to be not so lucky after all, as my Baby Brother had just turned 21 — the legal drinking age in the U.S.
And Rule #6? The only time the minister could run through the ceremony – with the whole wedding party in attendance – was after 8 PM on Friday night. As an atheist, I was grateful that the very kind Methodist minister agreed to marry us at all. Andy’s parents were adamant about having a religious ceremony. I absolutely did not want to alienate the only minister willing to marry an atheist and a borderline agnostic. She insisted on a rehearsal, and she insisted on the time, and we did as she asked. (The poor woman now knows regret.)
Since I don’t really drink, I didn’t take the would-be lushes in my family – or Andy’s — into account. Once on the boat, I spent most of the evening dodging Andy’s parents. Sunny and Jay were on the warpath because Andy and I had decided to hyphenate our last names. My future in-laws spent most of the evening in the main cabin, by the bar, while I spent most of it upstairs, by the open air dance floor. Anytime they appeared upstairs, I grabbed whoever was closest and hauled them onto the dance floor. And kept my partner there until Sunny or Jay disappeared back below decks. My little niece had the time of her life, as I swung her, flipped her, and even waltzed with her on my shoes. (I’m not above hiding behind little children. Not where my in-laws are concerned.)
What I didn’t realize until we got the bar bill was how much alcohol was consumed downstairs. While some could hold their liquor, some could not. The worst perpetrators were our brothers. Andy’s brother Denny – a total lightweight compared to Andy – was trashed after 4 shots. I only realized this when I ventured downstairs to raid the dessert bar. Denny, red in the eyes and the face, staggered up to the bar and slurred something like, “Gimme nada shot.”
I ran to the bar, shaking my head at the bartender. “No, no, I think THE BEST MAN has had MORE THAN ENOUGH to see him through until the WEDDING tomorrow.”
Denny: “I haz not even sharted!”
The bartender winked at me and poured Denny another shot.
Incensed, I yelled: “DO NOT FUCK WITH THE BRIDE—eep!” An arm around my waist cut me off before I could go full Bridezilla on the poor bartender. It was Andy.
He lifted me up and carried me away. “Let’s go dance, honey!”
I struggled. “Why the hell did you cut ME off instead of your brother?!”
Andy whispered, “He’s already cut off. The bartender’s been giving him sugar-water for the last half-hour. I gave him instructions for both our little brothers – no more than 4 drinks.”
I looked back. Denny downed his shot and got another. The bartender nodded at Andy and winked again. “You’re brilliant. They’ll stay hydrated.” Sunny joined Denny at the bar, looked over, and saw us. Her eyes narrowed.
Andy: “Quick! To the dance floor!”
He put me down. We raced outside and up the stairs. We stayed on the dance floor until the boat returned to dock. I rounded up my wedding party people and Eric rounded up his. We herded them from the dock up to the gazebo, where the wedding would be taking place tomorrow. My twenty-one year old Baby Brother put an arm around my shoulder and leaned on me. Heavily.
“This is the best wedding ever!” he declared.
Big Brother slapped Baby Brother on the back. Baby Brother and I almost fell over.
Baby Brother chuckled. “Hey, man, thanks for all the drinks!”
I hissed at Big Brother. “’All’? How many is ‘ALL’?!”
Big Brother looked offended. “No more than I could handle at his age.”
Me: “You were in the damned NAVY at his age. You’d been drinking in Brussels and the Philippines for years already. Jesus Christ, how many drinks?”
We neared the gazebo, where the very nice Methodist minister awaited us.
Big Brother waved at the minister. “‘Jesus Christ,’ you said? Is he invited to the wedding?” (Big Brother thinks he’s super clever when he’s drunk.)
Me: “Oh, great, you had just as many drinks as Baby Brother, didn’t you?”
Big Brother gave a scornful snort. “Please. Do not put me in the same category as Baby Brother. He’s a lightweight. I only got him four, and only because the bartender was giving him sugar-water.”
“The bartender cut him off AFTER four drinks! Oh, my God, he’s had eight drinks.”
Big Brother did a double take: “Eight? Really? Maybe the Baby is not such a lightweight after all…”
Baby Brother (singing): “Doe-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-doe, dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-doe! Remember that song, guys?”
Me, to Big Brother: “You’re still mad I brought an army guy to your wedding, aren’t you?”
Big Brother ignored me and began to sing with Baby Brother. I looped Baby Brother’s arm over Big Brother’s shoulder and left them to support each other before scurrying ahead to meet the minister.
Part II — probably titled “Drunk Bros & God” — out soon!