Maggie A's Meanderings




 Feb 1, 2015

A Picture Perfect Wedding

Years ago I was invited to a wedding ---- a wedding that I've used as an example of "What Not to Do" when getting married..................

The wedding ceremony was outdoors. In August. In Florida. In the middle of the day. And it wasn't at the beach where there would be a breeze. It was in the woods. And it wasn't an informal ceremony. It was a big, white gown wedding with guests dressed in their Sunday best. To say the heat and humidity were uncomfortable for the guests was an understatement. (And it must have been even worse for the wedding party.)

After the outdoor ceremony, the reception was held in an air conditioned room. That would have come as a relief except we, the guests, weren't allowed in it. We could see inside the room with the buffet tables, but the door was locked. We could hear the hum of the air conditioning, but couldn't reach the cool air. Instead we were kept standing outside on an August afternoon in Florida while wearing our best clothes. (And from a female perspective pantyhose were never meant to be worn under those conditions.) The men were sweating like the proverbial pigs in their suits while the make-up was melting off the women like an ice sculpture under heat lamps. There was one small bowl of punch and the only thing that disappeared faster than the punch was the bride and groom along with the rest of the wedding party. They'd gone off to get their photographs taken. Not unusual, in fact, quite common after the wedding ceremony. But when you're keeping a bunch of people miserably standing around in the August heat, that's definitely something the bride and groom should have considered. More punch --- much more punch, preferably with lots of ice. Some fans. Letting us in the room, but not serving the food yet. Even, heaven forbid, shortening the photography session (especially considering what happened at this wedding). But instead we stood and stood and stood as time dragged on and on while the bride and groom got their photos taken.

Finally the formal wedding photographs were finished and the bride, groom and the rest of the wedding party came up to where we'd been waiting. The door to the reception room was unlocked and the wedding party went inside to admire the beautifully pristine tables of food and to form a receiving line while we waited outside. The door was opened; we were permitted into the room, and we got to go through the line speaking with all the wedding party. And it was a good thing too. Because as soon as the last guest had gone through the receiving line the bride and groom disappeared for ---- you guessed it ---- more photographs.

But at least we had food and air conditioning. So we ate and enjoyed not sweltering as we waited for the bride and groom to join us.

However, this photography session took so long that by the time the bride and groom showed up at their own reception, many of the guests had already left. I'm convinced the only reason the bride and groom came back to the reception at all was so they could get photographs of the reception events. It certainly wasn't that the bride and groom wanted to be with the people they'd invited to supposedly share this joyous day with them because they didn't bother to socialize. Instead, after sitting down for a quick plate of food, the bride and groom went straight to the events photographic opportunities: the first dance, the throwing of the bouquet and garter, the cutting of the cake, the going away. Shots focused on the bride and groom where we guests were like background extras in a movie.

Except, by the time they got to the cutting of the cake, the room was practically deserted of wedding guests. There were maybe a double handful of us still there. The mother of the bride went around urging people to take extra pieces of the cake because there was going to be so much of it left over.

As I looked around the nearly empty reception room, I considered the rudeness of the guests who'd left. And it was undoubtedly rude. But the rudeness of the guests was caused by the rudeness of the bride and groom who made it perfectly clear they had zero interest in being with their guests. I couldn't blame the guests for leaving. I couldn't blame them for leaving so much that I left. I'm not sure there was anyone outside of the wedding party, the caterers and the photographer by the time the going away was photographed.

I have wondered what the bride and groom have thought through the years when they take out that fancy white album and look through their wedding photos. What was most important to them on their wedding day (besides, presumably, actually getting married) was that they had a lot of photos of themselves. And from that perspective, the wedding was a complete success. It was a picture perfect wedding. But I wonder if they never notice a lack, never notice that there aren't candid photos of their guests or of them with their guests, never notice that they don't have any funny memories of what this or that person said/did at the reception.

But, from my perspective, there was one important thing I did learn about weddings ---- it's that photographs aren't more important than real people.
If all you want is a staged wedding with a bunch of photographs of yourself, do it. But please don't bother to invite anyone. People invited to a wedding are wedding guests and deserve to be treated politely as guests, which includes interacting with the people you've invited to be there, not completely ignoring them so you can get your photograph taken.

Wedding Photo

For more on marriage and romance, read "The Marriage Contract -- Marriage and Government Activism" or "Hollywood Romance: Fiction Versus Fact."

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