Lessons From My Sister’s Wedding

Before flying out to Tucson for my sister’s wedding (October 17, 2009), I thought that my weekend was going to be one of basking by the pool side and debauchery, but it turned out to be quite educational. The first thing I learned is that preparing for a wedding is a lot like being on a tour. You run around from event to appointment to brunch to the bar to someone’s house – trying to fit it all in, adding things you forgot, and somehow miraculously getting it all done. It made me think that perhaps it’s not a life coach that I need – it’s a wedding planner to keep me on task and organized. Here are some other lessons I learned along the way:

Gin and tonics should be sipped, not inhaled: On the night of the rehearsal dinner (Thursday), we went out to Kat and Juan’s favorite bar, No Anchovies (Juan actually has his own mug there). At some point it was decided that we should leave, but not before E had just come back to the table with a couple of gin and tonics (he was crawling back into his seat with them when everyone else stood up to leave). Being of Irish Catholic descent, I learned that there are really only two mortal sins – suicide and wasting alcohol (which is funny because sometimes one’s efforts to not waste alcohol lead to suicide) – so E and I opted to pound our drinks before leaving. I got Juan to help me and by the bottom of the glass we were both sucking on our respective straws and cringing. Normally I like myself a gin and tonic, just not at that volume or speed. Some drinks you can chug – pretty much anything mixed with juice – and some things you can’t. Lesson learned.

“The idea of me pole dancing is a lot hotter than the actuality of it” – Katie: When I was planning Kat’s bachelorette party, I was secretly disappointed by the fact that our pole lesson was only 1h long. Two days later when I was still nursing sore muscles, I was wondering if we’d over done it a bit. We learned things with names like “fireman spin,” “b-hook,” “pole polish” and “porno push-up.” We all thought we were too tough for knee pads and we paid for it in bruises the size of golf balls. Our instructor was super sexy and had set up the studio in Kat’s wedding colors and had wine and champagne ready and waiting. Some things we learned were easier than we thought they’d be – spinning and backbends, for example, were shockingly simple – but other things were much harder than they looked. At some point our instructor showed us a pull-up on the pole, which we all attempted – and failed. I don’t even think I got my feet off the ground. We also talked our instructor into showing us some inversions, which Kat and I were able to manage. It’s always nice to know that we have options in case our other life plans don’t work out.

Singing old song lyrics is like riding a bike: The human mind never ceases to amaze me. Even things that are buried very deep can resurface with the right stimulus. Like the music we grew up with. We knew all the lyrics and all the dance moves then…and embarrassingly enough, we still know them now. Kat and I busted out the entire routine for 702’s Where My Girl’s At, which, to be honest, I’m still not sure why we know. Music video channels were blocked at our house growing up, and this was before YouTube, so I simply have no idea where we learned it. Later in the evening, my family danced and sang to Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger In Paradise. If only John Denver’s Grandma’s Feather Bed and Monica and Brandy’s That Boy Is Mine had made the list…

Persistence pays off – our quest for the Sonoran hotdog: E first told me about the Sonoran (bacon-wrapped) hotdog after his brother recommended it as the one thing we must do while in Tucson. I was like, yeah, I could eat that, but I wasn’t particularly attached to the idea of finding one. On our first night, when E went out with Juan and Juan’s best man, Chris, I told him to go ahead and eat one without me. Luckily for me (not so lucky for anyone else involved, including, somehow, my sister) they weren’t able to get the hotdog. My obsession began with the desire to help E fulfill his dream of eating the bacon-wrapped hotdog, but devolved into something I was hell-bent on trying as well. After the wedding (our last night in Tucson) we decided it was do or die: We had to have the elusive Sonoran hotdog. We asked the hotel front desk managers if they knew of a place to get one. They said they thought they did, but we’d need to take a cab. We told them money was of no consequence, so they called the cab and the driver called around to his friends to see if the place we were going to was still there and open (Sonoran hotdogs are typically sold out of carts/stands that move around quite frequently). Thankfully, the guy was still there. So we got our bacon-wrapped dogs with everything – beans, guacamole, mustard, mayo, onions, and a bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed pepper on the side. So. Worth. It.

Brides work out before their weddings not to look good in their dresses, but to be able to hold their bouquets: I’m not really kidding here – they look small and delicate with all their pretty little flowers, but they’re actually quite dense. I’m pretty sure Kat’s weighed at least 10 lbs. When we lined up for the bouquet toss half of me kind of wanted to catch it, but the other half was afraid of what would happen if I went for it, missed, and got hit in the face instead. Luckily I was spared from thinking about it for too long since I was standing in the back and throwing medicine balls was clearly not part of Kat’s workout regimen.

You take a lot of pictures before a wedding: Kat’s one of those people who either has a natural instinct for posing in photographs, or she spends a lot of time in front of a mirror figuring out what her “good” side is. She’s always loved hamming it up for the camera, but even she was burnt out by the time we were finished. The highlight of all this was when the photographers asked a bunch of girls in dresses and heels to pose in the middle of a somewhat busy street. The pictures turned out amazing but I know we were all wondering how we would run out of the way of an approaching vehicle if need be.

There’s something to be said for giving your vows in front of other people: The vows were my favorite part of the ceremony. E and I have often joked that instead of wedding invitations, we will send out announcements of our pending elopement with a date and time for the reception. We’re private people and aren’t much ones for ceremony or tradition, or even marriage for that matter, but when Kat and Juan read their vows – personal, funny, sweet – to one another, I was reminded of why people have weddings. It’s a sentiment I expressed at my parents’ wedding – that even though weddings and formal agreements don’t change the feelings between two people, there is significance in knowing that what you have is recognized and celebrated by others.

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