Back in 2002, the daughter of a friend of my father’s decided to get married to the man she’d been dating for about three or four months. Now, I don’t have anything against short courtships (my parents married very quickly as well, and it worked out wonderfully for them), but I loathed this girl – we’ll call her the Heinous Bride – and her family. They were the tackiest, trashiest people I’d ever met, and spending time with them was like watching a live episode of Jerry Springer. The wedding was announced two months before the wedding was to take place, and being that my father is a terrible judge of character AND a pushover, I knew we were going to be bullied into helping out with the whole thing. I was not wrong. Thankfully, HB did not ask me to be a bridesmaid. She instead asked two friends of hers, and her maid-of-honour was her brother’s longtime, long-suffering girlfriend. I, however, was not to get off so easily; instead, I was asked to be the DJ, because I was a music nut and had a computer and speakers. This was not a paying gig, of course. HB asked me to do it as a gift. Under pressure from my dad, I agreed. I figured it might even be kind of fun, playing music at a party. What could go wrong? HA!
Despite not being in the wedding party, I was invited to tag along on a trip to San Francisco with the bridal party, the MOB and her friends. According to the bride, our town was too small for her to be able to buy a proper dress, so she wanted to go to the Big City. I really didn’t want to spend an entire day with these people, but in the end (and after a lot of bullying from my dad) I went. Hey, it’s San Francisco, which is a city I love. And maybe it would be fun to do girly things like shop for dresses, right? For two hours, I sat in the backseat of a car with no air conditioning, in the dead of a California summer, with three smokers. I am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke. HB and her mother are aware of this. By the time we reached the city my eyes were red and watering, and I could not stop coughing. Throughout the ride we listened to country music at ear- bleeding volume, and conversation mostly revolved around why they hated black people/Hispanic people/gay people. It was absolute torture.
We shopped at a grand total of one store, a warehouse of marked-down dresses. We were there for the bride, the bridesmaids, the MOH, the MOB and the flower girl. I didn’t have any money (I lived on a very small income) so I could not shop for a dress for myself, and the bridal party never asked for my opinion on any of the dresses they selected. I sat on a concrete bench for two hours watching them try on dress after dress after dress. Eventually they found dresses, and decided to lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, at a burger joint. The bride paid for everyone’s food, but when it was my turn to order, everyone left. I wound up not getting anything because, as I said, I was completely broke, so when I rejoined the party outside the bride looked at me and said, “Oh, I forgot you were with us.”
Things continued in that vein as the wedding approached. I was roped (bullied) into helping with favors, decorations, making the bride’s bouquet out of fake flowers from Wal-Mart, and other little details. The bridesmaids and MOH never participated in any of the planning. I agonized over the wedding set list, gathering CDs of music and ripping the songs to my computer, arranging playlists, and figuring out how to transport my computer and speakers to the reception venue (because they weren’t paying for professional DJ equipment). I asked the groom for input on what songs he’d like to hear, and asked the bride – repeatedly – for a list of songs she liked. The MOB told me that in no way, shape or form was I to play ANY rap music at the reception. This is important, later.
The bride threw her own shower, which I never heard about until my dad received a phone call one night, asking where I was. Turns out that the bride forgot to invite me. The same thing happened at the bachelorette party; they forgot to invite me. The bride liked to say things to me such as, “Mom said to tell you not to cut your hair, because we don’t want you looking butch at the wedding,” and, “Mom wants to know if you’re wearing a dress, so you don’t look like a guy at the wedding,” and my personal favorite, “Aren’t you glad we made you the DJ? At least you’ll have something to do at the wedding, ’cause it’s not like you’ll have a date.” And my dad wondered why I cried so much, that summer.
Then, about two weeks before the wedding, the MOH found out that she was pregnant. The HB actually demanded that MOH abort, because, “You’re stealing my thunder,” and, “You won’t fit into your dress!” There was lot of fuss, the MOH was almost ‘fired’ from her position, the MOB (remember, MOH is dating HB’s brother, so this is MOB’s grandchild we’re talking about) threatened to kick her out of the house, etc. Lots of drama, only to find out that MOH is not, in fact, pregnant. And then everything was fine, and everyone behaved as if nothing happened.
So, it’s about three days before the wedding. I was summoned to HB’s house to go over the music with her. Now, I have been bugging her for weeks for a list of songs that she’d like to hear, and she keeps forgetting. So I’ve been gathering music on my own – classics, a little mix of cheesy 80s music, some country songs, lots of traditional love songs, etc. The standard wedding fare. HB goes through the playlist and rejects all but about an hour of music. She then, finally, gives me her list – it’s all rap, the stuff the MOB had declared verboten. I conferred later with the MOB, who assured me that it was fine, just play what I have, HB won’t even notice, she’ll be so distracted. It put me in a really awful position, because on the one hand if I obeyed the bride I wouldn’t have enough music to play all night, and most of the stuff she picked wasn’t suitable for the older generation and children who would be there. If I listened to the MOB, I risked angering the bride on her so-called “day.” Ugh. And then the MOB spent the rest of the evening whining about my hair (which was short at the time, a pixie-cut) and how I shouldn’t have cut it, it made me look too much like a boy, how I might ruin the wedding, etc.
Finally, it’s the wedding day. T-minus fifteen minutes to start, and we’re missing a bridesmaid, half the bride’s invited family members, and the father of the bride. Missing BM eventually shows up; she’s five months pregnant and had Braxton-Hicks contractions. Family members trickle in right up to the point where we’re supposed to start, and finally the FOB (who is a complete jerk) turns up right as the pastor asks everyone to be seated. The wedding begins. It’s actually nice, brief and sweet. Nothing else happens, except for HB’s son (from another man) charging up and down the aisle a few times. The unity candles also refused to light at first, and I found out later that they’d forgotten to bring the rings. The pastor actually took off his own ring and passed it to the groom so he’d have something to put on her finger. It was kind of funny, in hindsight – and quick thinking on the part of the pastor.
Then it was time for the reception. I decided to do what the MOB said to do, and I played what I had. It went over very well – a few guests came up to compliment me on the music and even ask for a few artists and titles so they could find them on their own. This went on for a couple of hours, before things started to go south. One of the bridesmaids, thoroughly drunk at that point, came up and started requesting hardcore gangster rap, the stuff MOB told me not to play. There were elderly people and children at the reception, and the stuff she requested was just nonstop swearing, really obscene stuff. I told her no. She would not let up, and even tried to bully me away from my computer so she could play it herself. Then a couple of small children came up and started requesting the same stuff. I stood my ground, but when the bridesmaid threatened to take me outside and beat me up, I lost it and started to cry. Big, wracking sobs – I felt bad for making a scene, but all the stress and all the abuse just finally hit me and I couldn’t take it any more.
To her credit, HB came over to find out what was wrong. I told her, and she became furious and went to have a word with her bridesmaid. She then came back to tell me that if anyone else hassled me about the music, she would – and I quote – “F*cking kick their f*cking a$$es.” She apologized, thanked me for helping so much, and invited me to come try to catch the bouquet – which I did, ha ha.
I’d like to say that this was the happy end to the story, but it’s not. Months later HB and her husband began having trouble, and then it came to light that they were not actually married, not legally – the paperwork had never been filed. All that work only to find out that they were never actually married. Then the HB went off and had an affair – with another woman, and the groom was arrested for tax fraud. I am so glad I moved away and have not spoken to any of those people since. Needless to say, should I get married they will not be invited. 0801-09