It was the evening before my wedding. My Chinese-American fiancé and I had made the mistake of having an open bar at our rehearsal dinner. Despite Andy’s best efforts, most of our wedding party got trashed. The worst offenders were our brothers. My Big Brother, former Naval Officer, had conned my twenty-one-year-old Baby Brother into attempting to match his alcohol consumption. And while Andy’s little brother Denny had thankfully been cut off early by the bartender, he’d still downed too many shots.
As of 8 PM, Team Navy was still underway at full speed, Team China was barely afloat, and Team 21 was sinking fast.
Team Navy also kept singing. Loudly.
In other, epic stupidity, we scheduled our rehearsal dinner before the actual rehearsal. Which meant that Andy and I had to herd twelve drunks up the hill to the gazebo where the minister waited. (Thankfully, two of my sisters were too young to drink, and like me, my friends KL and AH don’t touch alcohol.)
Baby Brother lurched over, put an arm on Boyfriend-Stealing Baby Sister, and breathed fumes in her face. She pushed him off at KL. “I don’t wanna carry him, you carry him.”
KL shoved Baby Brother back. “Oh, no, I’m not related to him.”
Boyfriend-Stealing Baby Sister dodged the listing Baby Brother. “I’m not related to him, either! Autumn is my half-sister through my dad, he’s her half-brother through her MOM.”
Baby Singing Sister ducked in and tried to prop up Baby Brother. “I…got…him…” Baby Singing Sister is Baby Brother’s only full sibling. She is also perhaps a hundred pounds sopping wet. Wearing chain mail. For a minute, it looked like the siblings were going to tumble back down the hill.
Big Brother reached out and hauled Baby Brother back in the right direction while singing, “Oh you can’t get to heaven/ On roller-skates…” Big Brother expertly maneuvered Baby Brother up into the gazebo where I stood with the minister. Thankfully, his singing trailed off. Baby Brother must’ve been heavy.
“Good job.” I murmured to Big Brother, as he propped Baby Brother up in front of a pillar.
“Specialized Naval training,” he told me.
“Awesome use of tax dollars,” I muttered back.
Big Brother winked and held out his hand to the Methodist Minister who had graciously condescended to marry agnostic Andy and atheist me and make Andy’s parents happy. As he shook her hand, he said, “So God is invited to the wedding?”
(Side note: my family is mostly atheists. And assholes.)
I pushed in front of Big Brother. “If God is omniscient, he doesn’t need an invitation. So, shall we put everyone in their places?”
We tried. The Minister wanted to walk in with all the groomsmen, leading them like a phalanx. The first time they lined up, Denny was missing. When Denny was found, Baby Brother was missing. AH wandered off to stare out at the lake and wish he were anywhere else with anyone sober. Bubba, Andy’s cousin’s husband, left the group to tell me how much he loved his groomsman’s gift. I thanked him and escorted him back to the phalanx. I hunted down AH and begged him to return, which he did.
Big Brother brought back Baby Brother, put him in line, called out, “We’re ready! And remember, God will be in attendance tomorrow! So, gentlemen, for God and country!”
I smiled apologetically at the Minister. She gave me a tight smile back, then led the shuffling groomsmen into the gazebo where they stood in their assigned places. For two seconds. Baby Brother retreated to his pillar, Bubba sat on a bench, and Denny collapsed on the steps of the gazebo. Big Brother hummed, then sang a few bars of the French National Anthem before seguing into what sounded like his own personal mash-up of “The Wedding March” and “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.”*
I rolled my eyes and told Pretty Space Cadet Sister to lead the bridesmaids into the gazebo. Pretty Space Cadet Sister is not exactly clutch at improvisation. She got to Denny, flapped her arms, looked around, and said, “Um, um, um?”
“Just step OVER him!” I yelled. “And go to your spot!”
My eight attendants made it over Denny and into the gazebo. Andy and I were supposed to stand on the steps in front of the gazebo. Instead, we stood in front of the gazebo (and Denny).
“Good enough,” said the Minister. “Now the recessional.”
The recessional consisted of bridesmaids holding up groomsmen. My Maid of Honor, M, hauled Denny to his feet and force-marched him out of everyone else’s way. Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister managed to keep Baby Brother on his feet.
I asked the Minister if she wanted another run through.
“I think not,” she said. “Do you have an alternate plan for tomorrow?
My stomach dropped. “No, you’re our only plan, please, I’m so sorry…
The Minister laughed and waved a hand at me, “No, no, I didn’t mean for an officiant. I will be here.”
“Thank God,” I sighed.
“Indeed,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye.
Big Brother processed by us, arm-in-arm with Boyfriend-Stealing Baby Sister. He now sang Depeche Mode: “‘I don’t mean to start/ Any blasphemous rumors/ But I think that God/ has a sick sense of humor—’”
I winced. “Just ignore him. So what was that about alternate plans?”
The Minister gave me a puzzled look. “For the rain. There’s a storm expected tomorrow. You didn’t know?”
I closed my eyes. “Of course there is.”
As Big Brother continued his march toward the Inn, his voice floated back to us:
“And when I die, I expect to find Him laughing…”