So, faithful readers, my marriage is quickly approaching. Marriage can be a beautiful thing, where two people have the desire to spend their lives together, with love the main driving force—such is the case for me and my bride-to-be. However, in order to get married, it is customary to have a wedding. A wedding, I’ve learned, is something completely different than a marriage. Having had the privilege of planning my own grand affair, I can tell you with one-hundred-percent certainty that it is one of the most stressful endeavors you will ever embark upon—not the best situation for anyone who also battles autoimmune disease and is supposed to keep stress levels, well, way down.
More than anything, I wish someone had sat me down beforehand and told me exactly how it was going to be, because there were times when I felt like I was the worst (almost) husband since Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and I was terrified that what I was feeling was abnormal. “Is it supposed to be this stressful?” I’d ask myself at least ten times a day. So, I will do any of you who are currently in the pre-wedding phase a favor and tell you that yes, the homicidal feelings you will have towards inanimate objects is totally normal. Also, that nightmare of your being forced to pick coordinating napkin, chair cover, and dress sash color schemes while running down some never-ending wedding expo hallway while the sound of a register rings is completely common. That’s just the beginning, though. The real fun comes in the last month or two, when you have to decide which of your friends you like the best, and exactly how much each member of your family is worth. You probably think I’m exaggerating. Oh, ye of little faith.
Planning a wedding is like trying to organize a peace conference between all of your friends and family while a handful of strangers watch and judge you. The ultimate goal is to make sure that everyone leaves satisfied, full, and happy, with a signed marriage certificate to seal the deal. Just like in a real life peace summit, though, this is not an easy goal to achieve, and unlike real life, you can’t just send in the troops if all else fails. So, you spend hours upon hours trying to anticipate the needs and wants of 150 people, and divine any potential problem areas while doing so. These “problem areas” are powder kegs filled with dynamite that could potentially ignite, which could result in a small blast or a meltdown of Chernobyl proportions. Are we having fun yet?
If you do make it to the home stretch, you get to design the seating chart. This little slice of heaven is one of the biggest sources of stress for the entire wedding. It’s where you have to decide which of your friends and family mean the most to you, and which ones you wouldn’t notice were gone even if they were dragged away by rabid zebras. It’s a painful exercise, and while we figured out a way to make everyone roughly equal, normally that’s not the case. For most people, it’s a shameful game of memory as you strain to recall all the times a particular person has done you wrong. You both sit in front of the chart and say things like, “Well, he did suck that squirrel up into our snow blower and we were blowing out that red snow for weeks,” and, “Remember, she only gave us a card and we gave her an entire set of fondue forks. You know how much I love fondue.”
By the time you are done, you’ve inadvertently created your own timeline of pain, and whoever is responsible for the worst offenses is often exiled to the Siberia of the event hall, the spillover table. You know the one I mean. It’s the table you tell yourself that no one will know that you’ve deemed them unworthy to sit among other civilized humans. You think it’s totally unnoticeable, but when the wedding pictures come and the table group shot looks like the Muppets took your wedding, it becomes readily apparent that your clever attempt at camouflage has failed miserably. People always know, there’s no way around it. If someone is assigned to table “99 Double Z,” with the groom’s letter carrier, and a guy named Menari who takes care of the bride’s “aura,” chances are, you probably shouldn’t have sprung for that Waterford hi-ball glass set.
Fortunately, though, because of the traditional tiered seating method, there is always someone to look down on. The family and very close friends table sneer in delight at the best friends table, while the best friends lord their “best” status over those who are merely rated “friends,” with no qualifier. Still, those who are just friends take joy in knowing that there are acquaintances sitting behind them, stabilizing the pillar of friendship envy with a solid base of jealousy and tragic longing. Even at the table of misfits, every member tells themselves that their placement was an oversight, and that none of the other weirdoes could possibly know the couple like they do – especially that guy with the red face who insists on calling everyone “chief.”
No matter where your seat is, though, there is universal disapproval of the wedding party member selection. Whispers of, “I heard she used to flash coma patients for nickels,” and, “I was told that he used to steal money from blind panhandlers,” are not uncommon. It’s a cantankerous stew of people who secretly long to be more important but greedily pontificate about their relationship to the bride and groom at volume, just to be sure they are overheard by those they have had the good fortune to outseat.
Now, once you’ve assigned a class and value to each one of the blessed guests who you’ve lovingly decided to share your special day with, you reach the second stage of creating the seating chart – avoiding fight club. In any social group, especially one that has been together for years, there are long-standing conflicts, soured relationships, and (not-so) secret grudges, that must be taken into consideration when deciding who should be allowed to share the same round table. If you add to that the wellspring of drama called family relations, it’s a wonder that anyone can occupy the same space without breaking into a scene from West Side Story (minus the singing, twice the snapping). Sentences you hoped never to utter, such as, “Rob and Ellie have to sit at different tables because of that thing, you know, when she caught him with the babysitter,” and. “Aunt Effie can’t sit near cousin Frank because he pulled the plug on her mom, remember?” become commonplace, and you feel dirtier than a bar room floor. By the end of it all, you have waded through a river of gossip and wonder how anyone is still friend, with all the secrets – the terrible, horrible, secrets. Except yours, of course. No one knows about those. I’m sure.
As you can see, having a wedding is almost pure stress, so don’t sweat it if you think about swan diving off a bridge here and there. I, of course, have to do all of this, and manage an autoimmune illness that responds to stress the same way a bull responds to a red flag. It’s a special kind of Hell, I assure you, but I’m told in the end it will all be worth it. So, wish me luck, my readers, and I’ll see you again when I’m a husband.
CreakyJoints wishes to extend heartfelt congratulations to Daniel on his marriage. Dan, we love you, and wish you and Allison the best.