In my family, weddings are a big fricking deal, but not because it’s the start of two people’s lives together. It’s mostly because a wedding is an excuse to get together and drink and yell and exercise our native European demons. Oh, and mess with each other.
My parents got married on a scorching day in August of 1980. Unfortunately for them, a fellow parishioner decided to die that same week, and his family booked the church for his funeral mass–one hour before my parents were scheduled to get married. When my mom got the church to get ready, the hearse was still parked in front and the place was still packed with mourners. There was nothing she could do until everyone left, so she sat on the front steps and cried.
At the same time, my dad was getting dressed. In his infinite wisdom, he decided to don his white tuxedo before shaving.
Finally, it was time for the ceremony. True to their Roman Catholic roots, my parents decided to celebrate a full mass for their wedding. Unfortunately for them, that meant they were stuck at the altar for over an hour. The church didn’t have air conditioning. My mother was trapped in her elbow length veil until my dad lifted it to give her their first kiss. It’s a miracle she didn’t pass out before Communion.
But it wouldn’t be a good story if a dead person and a near fainting were the worst of their problems. When my parents finally escaped the rice throwing throng after the reception in mom’s gold Chevy Monza 2+2, it was late at night and they faced a long drive down out of the mountains to find a hotel to stay in. Thirty minutes after leaving, my cousin Ronnie popped up in the backseat where he had been hiding and yelled, “Where are we going on our honeymoon, Uncle Andy?” My dad nearly drove off the side of the road.
I still wonder what kind of conversation Ron heard that night.