It all started around 1983. I was probably four and was asked to be the flower girl in my mom’s friend’s second or third wedding. I remember quite a bit, considering that wedding was almost 30 years ago and I slept through a great portion of it. The adult females in the bridal party got to wear these awesome wide-brimmed hats, including the bride. The maid of honor this time around (my mom was the M.O.H. for one of the previous weddings and it’s probably tacky to repeat) was this down-ass white lady who would alternate between pinching me, blowing cigarette smoke in my face, and carrying me around while threatening to throw me in the duck pond. She was awesome and I loved her. I wore a crown of flowers around a high bun with tendrils of spiral curls dangling in my face. I had on all white everything before Jay-Z and Jeezy. My flower basket was filled with silk flowers; I knew that any respectable flower girl was supposed to throw her petals, but alas, mine were glued to the bottom of my wicker basket. L’horreur! Eh, it was the 80s. The idea of walking down the aisle was absolutely terrifying to me, but somehow I made it through. I think the M.O.H. threatening to burn me with her cigarette if I didn’t may have had something to do with it. The ring bearer and I were dating during the rehearsal and wedding. He was an older man, being in kindergarten or first grade, and told me that he’d be forcing me to drink champagne out of the lit up fountain that I thought was filled with Kool-Aid at the reception. He also repeatedly threatened to kiss me. I found his behavior distasteful, but liked that he thought he could break-dance.
Fast-forward a few thousand years and I was being fitted for a sea-foam green, corset-top monstrosity to be paired with mandatory white silk shoes. I hadn’t known the bride for very long, but found her propensity for eye-rolling and shit-talking endearing. I probably should have taken the fact that she had a revolving door of 19 bridesmaids as a warning, but I like to be helpful and like to be wanted even more. I spent exorbitant amounts of cash on a kick-ass surprise bachelorette party and so-so bridal shower and went to the cake tasting with the bride. I wasn’t even an M.O.H. and this chick had like three or four. Two hours before the rehearsal dinner that I would have been on time for I got a call from the bride telling me that the wedding was off and that she was going to kill herself. She was bluffing; last I heard she’s still alive. Oh, but yeah, the wedding was finito. Turns out little miss pink diamonds had been exchanging dirty emails with a police officer from the town where she worked for months and that they’d been doing the Kristen Stewart (focus specifically on the box-licking in the lower left hand corner) in her Mini-Cooper while her husband played WoW. Yes, I realize I typed “husband”. She demanded that the poor sucker marry her in a civil ceremony years before on some Romeo-and-Juliet-defy-thy-family type bullshit but had to have her church wedding complete with green and purple orchids and stupid-ass lopsided cake with Mickey and Minnie toppers. Le sigh. You don’t have to tell me that I was ignoring some nuclear fallout style alarms blaring in my ears; I know. I saw the husband recently and he’s prematurely gray. Didn’t have the heart to ask about her. I figured his hair and twitchy left eye said it all.
The last wedding I was in was perfectly normal and lovely. The bride was chill; we wore season-appropriate neutrals (navy and silver) in dresses and shoes we got to pick ourselves. We ate cupcakes and drank from the open bar and danced with her hilarious aunties to Prince and Michael Jackson. So why am I calling this post “Never a bride”? Aren’t I missing a third wedding incident to recount before I admit that I am either forever doomed or on a mad dash to make four new BFFs who just so happen to be getting married next year? I’m getting to it, I’m getting to it. And for those of you scoffing at my including a stint as a flower girl, technically I have been asked to be a bridesmaid a total of five times; one wedding was called off due to hoeing as I mentioned above. My other two opportunities to roll my eyes behind a tacky bouquet were revoked because for one wedding I was the wrong shade of brown for the groom’s family and I got into a fight with the bride at what used to be the China Club before the other. Both of those bitches got divorced, so there.
In between the vomit-inducing lavender and seaf0am and tasteful navy and silver, there was Wanda’s wedding. Wanda was at least 275-lbs. with a gap in her front teeth that would make Michael Strahan green with envy. She wore wigs so tacky Lil’ Kim would be tempted to pull her aside and beg her for the name of her stylist. She made Wesley Snipes look high yellow. The first time I met Wanda she had on a three-sizes two small, midriff-bearing Versace knock-off t-shirt emblazoned with what I guess was Donatella and Gianni’s step-cousin’s name – VERSAGE – across her enormous chest in iridescent glitter. Wanda was a damn hot-ass mess. If you think I’m awful for focusing on her unfortunate physical appearance, I welcome your prissy, don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-ass to have several seats and listen to me describe her wretched personality.
Wanda was a pathological liar. She knowingly set up a twenty-year old friend to date a 16 year-old foster care runaway who’s age she continuously lied about because she thought it was funny. Jealous of maybe our friendship or looks or standing in the world – it was never made clear – she told her friends that a female friend and I were lesbian lovers, knowing her friends were a bunch of homophobic douche bags who would shun us every time we took pity on her and made an appearance at one of her awful parties. During one of those parties, a set of her stellar companions high on heroin tried to pressure us into buying Oxycontin by threatening to lock us in the house unless we agreed to at least try it and flew into a rage when we said we didn’t have time for any Afterschool Special shenanigans and to unlock the got-dang door. One month after her wedding, Wanda caused a scene at my birthday party by throwing her wedding rings across a crowded dance floor and screaming at the top of her lungs at her husband, alternating between threatening him with divorce and charging at him like a rabid hippopotamus because he ordered and consumed a drink. I bet you’re wondering why I agreed to be in this heifer’s wedding. Child, so am I.
I agreed out of pity, I guess, and probably curiosity, and because, at that time at least, despite all the reasons not to, I liked Wanda. Her other friends were awful. She needed someone with at least an ounce of class to help her with her wedding. In hindsight, I should have handed her ass a phone book so she could find one. But I was young and a sucker who genuinely cared about other people.
After bragging about buying her wedding gown for $99 at a discount bargain basement, she tried to get the bridal party to shell out $350 on bridesmaid dresses. All of her bridal party, including yours truly, was living at home with our parents. Most of us were still college students. Nobody had that kind of money! We gently talked her down and she chose a hideous Cinderella’s housecoat looking thing in that god-awful color: lavender. It was a couple of hundred bucks less, but needed major alterations. One bridesmaid couldn’t afford the less-expensive gown either, so Wanda generously bought it for her, but told her she was on her own for alterations. Pretty fair, right? Oh, just wait.
Wanda insisted on doing everything herself, from the decorations, to the bouquets, to the invitations. Quiet as it’s kept, Wanda wasn’t particularly talented at doing any of those things. The invitations to her wedding went out full of misspellings and grammar errors. I heard later that the wedding location information provided wasn’t even accurate. A friend who had had the good sense to drop out of the bridal party was still willing to help behind the scenes. She took on making the wedding cake, bride’s bouquet, and sweets Wanda had never tasted but wanted served at the wedding ’cause they looked-ed good in a magazine.
Her family took the reins for the shower, which was successful and actually quite nice. Lord, how I wish they had stepped in and taken over everything else. Supposedly, they tried and Wanda fought them at every step, so they gave up. Wanda claimed she had it all taken care of; she took us to the soul food restaurant that was going to cater the wedding so we could sample stuff in advance. She had a limo driver, a hairdresser, a make-up artist. She also apparently had access to the Hope Diamond; when she showed us the monstrosity on her left hand, it was all we could do to politely smile. The rock was so big it was obviously fake. Fine; personally, I don’t need a big or even real diamond, considering the cost to the environment and of human life (try not to roll your eyes so hard that they get stuck), but I certainly wouldn’t attempt to pass off a lemon ice flavored Ring Pop as the real thing, either!
Fast forward to the “rehearsal dinner”. The wedding ceremony was never actually “rehearsed” because no one could make the 5:00pm start time she insisted on on a Friday night. Everyone, including the officiant, was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. It was an outdoor wedding and by the time we got to the site, it was pitch black. We all stood around and looked at it and each other. Wanda shrugged and said “It’ll be fine. We’ll practice in the banquet hall.”
The banquet hall was a local VFW who didn’t seem to be expecting Wanda or her wedding at all. There was a bingo game still going on when we walked in. The place reeked of smoke and despair. We did our best with the decorations she’d bought; none of the table cloths fit the tables, but luckily, someone brought a roll of tape. She put us to work, instructing us to sweep the floor and wipe down tables; she sent us on errands driving around the city picking up cans of soda and ice and favors. A few of us muttered “Wouldn’t the caterer handle the beverages, too?” Wanda wanted to be sure there would be enough.
She ordered pizza and we stood around eating it without plates or napkins before she put us back to work. Eventually, we made the place look as good as it was going to and Wanda called it a night. She told us that she’d booked a suite of hotel rooms and that the hairdresser would be meeting us that night to get started on our hair. “But Wanda, it’s already 11:00pm!”, someone cried. “I told you, I got it under control!” Wanda barked.
We were to follow her in our cars to the hotel. After seeing the VFW, we weren’t sure what to expect. We drove for about 20 minutes before Wanda pulled into the parking lot of a Sheraton Hotel. My car, packed to the brim with various bridesmaids, let out a collective cry of joy at Wanda so unexpectedly coming through for us. As I put the car in park, she ran over, frantically waving her arms. “I just wanted to pull over so I could let you all know we have another 30 minutes or so of driving”, she said, her eyes never quite meeting mine. “Everything in the city is booked up. This is the weekend of the annual small business owner association’s meeting. We’re gonna have to get a room in the next town over.”
We eventually ended up at a motor lodge well outside of the city. Wanda had some sort of arrangement with the manager which fell through despite her haggling and we all – all five of us – had to cough up $60 a piece. Yeah, a room with two twin beds at a motor lodge somehow cost $300. We drove through the parking lot to our room and on that short ride witnessed the following: a man stumbling out of his room and vomiting on the sidewalk; three men fighting in another section of the parking lot; a very large man with two very large pit bulls at the end of two very long chains screaming into his cell phone at someone who was going to get “f*cked up” later that night if he had his way. I pulled over so we could unload our luggage from the car and then parked it when we were done. As I made the treacherous walk from the car to our “suite”, I saw one of the bridesmaids, my friend Lisa, sitting on the steps with her toddler who was to be the flower girl asleep in her arms. “What’s up?” I asked, terrified to hear the answer. “Oh, you’ll see. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you” she cryptically replied.
The first thing I noticed was the window. It was wide open, which is strange for a hotel or motel. They usually don’t open at all. “Huh”, I said under my breath. “It doesn’t lock!” yelled one of the girls. “It doesn’t lock? The window doesn’t lock?” I repeated. “Nope!” I hadn’t even stepped foot inside the room yet and I was seriously considering sleeping in my car. Once I got inside, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night, but I knew there was no way in hell it would be in that room of evil and filth.
“Oh god, what is that smell?” I yelled as I tried to simultaneously cover my nose. “Oh that? That’s cat pee.” It was Lisa from the steps. That’s why she was out there with her daughter. Wanda had gone to get the manager. It was like being in a haunted house. You know it’s only going to get worse the further you walk in, but you’re compelled to keep going. The room itself was pretty nondescript other than the non-locking window and stench of feline urine. Then I got to the bathroom. The door was barely hanging on by its hinges. There was a hole that looked like it had been caused by someone’s head being repeatedly slammed into it. “My god, where are we?” I whispered.
Eventually, the manager showed up. Wanda angrily told him to take a deep breath. “Yeah, we get a lot of strays around here” he said without the slightest hint of outrage or disgust or irony or any feeling at all, for that matter. “Are you saying they get into the rooms?” one of us asked, incredulous. He shrugged. “How are you gonna make this right? I’m getting married tomorrow!” Wanda shrieked. He pulled out a can of industrial strength air freshener. “I’m all out of rooms and we have a no refund policy.” Wanda was at her wits end. She was the bride; we’d stay with her because we were her bridesmaids, dammit! Whatever she wanted to do was fine with us. A bunch of fools we were.
“Let’s just stay here. I’m stressed out” she mumbled. “Okay, Wanda, whatever you say. Is your hairdresser still showing up tonight?” I asked, trying to get her mind off of the crisis at hand. I hoped she hadn’t noticed that I hadn’t taken off my coat or set down my suitcase. “She’s not coming. She’s a lying bitch. Her and her husband.” Her husband would have been our “limo driver”. “Wh-what? What about our hair and make-up? What are we supposed to do? Wanda, I didn’t bring much with me because I thought it was going to be taken care of!” came the chorus of outrage from all except for weird Kelly, the lone bridesmaid who didn’t see what the big deal was about the room, was tired, and had made herself comfortable on the pissy-ass floor and was fast asleep. Just remembering the sight gives me the chills.
Wanda had brought a home relaxer kit and hot rollers. I had shampoo and conditioner and a blow dryer (see, part of me knew not to trust lyin’-ass Wanda). We made due. None of us had makeup, except for Wanda, and her color palette wasn’t exactly interchangeable with the various complexions in the room. No tea, no shade, just stating facts! Someone asked about the maid of honor who hadn’t shown up to the “rehearsal dinner”. Did she make it to town yet? “Yeah, she’s here. She’s mad ’cause of the room I got her, so she won’t come out and she’s not speaking to me” said Wanda nonchalantly as she greased her scalp. We were speechless.
Wanda also let it slip that a friend of hers, a very musty weirdo named J.J., would be doing the cooking for the reception. “But what about the soul food restaurant catering?” I asked. “Oh they were too expensive. And besides, I just like their macaroni and cheese, so I only ordered a tray of that.” Wanda was sure that J.J. could handle the cooking for about 100 people. He was a great cook! He was one of her best friends and very reliable. He would be bringing the stereo and CD so she could walk down the aisle to N*SYNC’s “This I promise you”. I wish I was kidding. She gave him lots of duties, actually, since she didn’t want him to be an usher in the wedding, as he would have insisted on his horrid girlfriend Betsy being a bridesmaid, but didn’t want him to feel left out. Having smelled J.J. on more than one occasion, I didn’t care if he cooked like he was the reincarnation of Betty Crocker herself: not only was I not going to be sleeping that night, I sure as hell wouldn’t be eating anything at the wedding the next day.
There’s more to the story, of course, but what kind of blogger would I be if I gave it to you all at once? Yeah, you’re right, probably a really good one. Anyway, stay tuned for the second installment of “Never a bride”. Believe me, the best is yet to come. . .