Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Today's the day we'll say "I do" and we'll never be lonely any more

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is a veritable up-close and personal WEDDING DAY GONE WRONG post. I don’t know if it qualifies as a wedding disaster, because we did get hitched in the end, but it’s close.

Background: Jason and I got married in one of those get-the-hell-away-from-our-crazy-family weddings out of the country and brought only a select few with us. We later had a big wedding reception back here in Canada. In the photos, you can tell we’re in the Dominican if my hair is somewhat disheveled and my flowers are white. In Canada, the flowers are red and my hair is held firmly in place due to a mah-velous invention called CEMENT hairspray.

We had the usual gripes that most couples go through: demanding family, a reply rate of only about 10% on our RSVPs, stressful dress fittings, nutty travel agents, blah, blah, blah. The real fun started when I came down with herpes.

Yeah, you heard me right. Herpes. Okay, so it wasn’t the 'blisters in a bad place' kind of herpes. It was a much more special kind called herpes zoster, otherwise knows as shingles in your eye. IN YOUR EYE! In my eye, which is even worse, and all this just a week before the wedding. Basically, half of my face was swollen and sore, my eye was a frightening thing to behold, red, and puffy, and the surrounding tissues were 80 times their normal size. It hurt like hell and looked even worse.

Flash forward one week. We’re in the airport, I’m trudging around with an 80 pound dress and wearing the wedding eye patch that my mother made me. It was your standard pirate patch, only my mother got out her glue gun and added lace trim, false eyelashes and a great big googly eye. I wore it to show what a good sport I was, but do you think it made me feel better? More bridal? Less like a wedding freak? Nope. Plus, the fact that this was just months after 9/11 didn’t help because they confiscated my weapon-like eyebrow tweezers and I now my big bushy eyebrows would match my herpes. Anyway, I was in the bathroom having another nose bleed (that’s standard for me) when I heard the announcement: plane delayed. Again. No one likes to get delayed. But when you’re carrying a dress that cost more than your car, and you’re on your way to your own wedding, and your honeymoon, and this is your first trip to pretty much anywhere, it’s a big deal. Boo-frickin-hoo, right?

So our 6pm flight turns into a 2am one, but we get on the damn plane, take off, and I’m impressing seasoned-flyer Jason with how calm I am on my first flight. Sure, I’m tired and hungry and upset that I’ve already missed out on several hours of an open bar at my own week-long wedding, but at least now we’re on our way. Or at least that’s what I thought, until the pilot says “We’re having engine trouble, so we’re dumping fuel over New York City, and heading back. ENGINE TROUBLE! I do my best to keep Jason calm as we head back toward the airport, but the passed out flight attendant behind us is not helping. We do land safely, back where we started, and still with no food in our distraught tummies. The airport’s cafeteria does not have enough food for all of us, so we have muffins and Doritos, I think some people got nothing. Jason stakes out a piece of carpet for us to lie down on while I blubber in the bathroom, the tears stinging my herpes. Finally they herd us to the airport hotel, and you know how those are. We’re not impressed. We’re supposed to be enjoying our 5-star resort in the Dominican right now. We sleep a couple hours, are fed those same damn muffins for breakfast the next morning and are encouraged to board a new plane, one that doesn’t have engine trouble. Supposedly.

A day late to our wedding-moon, we land in the Dominican, and are met by a crazy woman named Lou. While an even crazier driver careens us toward our resort hotel, Lou, in her thickly accented voice, gives us the usual spiel: livestock on the buses, don’t drink the water, look out for "natural" laxatives, etc. At the resort, we scarf down our first vodka punches and our first real meal in 48 hours. Exhaustion and drunkenness seep down on us quickly, but this is our wedding-moon, dammit, and we’re committed to having a 'fun' time.

The next day we meet our wedding coordinator, Sendy. She looks over the legal documents we brought with us, her country’s requirements to marry us that incident cost us over $500 and even more in effort. She tells us they’re not valid and we cannot get married in the Dominican Republic. Suddenly, I wished I was dumping fuel over NYC again. We are sent back to our pretty room to drown our sorrows in banana mamas. And that’s a total crock: depression requires jd, not a fruity drink with a girly name and a tropical umbrella spouting out the top. Meanwhile, I discover that sunscreen and manicures don’t mix: my nails are now full of the red fuzz from my towel, and that paired with my jungle-like eyebrows and herpes in the eye are not making me feel very bridal anyway.

The resort was beautiful, the buildings were completely open with plants growing right in the middle of pretty much everywhere. We were right on a white-sand beach with the ocean lapping at us all languidly and sparkly. There were bars in the pools, for goodness sake! And still, I moped. I traveled all this way for nothing. My dress would hang, unused. I would never get a tan line from my brand new wedding band. It just felt wrong, and I guess it showed on my face, because the staff would continually tell me "The problem is, you have no drink", which was rarely even true. But it’s not enough to have a drink, and a back up drink. You should always have three or four or thirteen lined up when you’re on vacation. I really liked that policy, and if nothing else, I was determined to at least get my money’s worth in liquor. Late in the afternoon, the sun and the drinks were getting to me. I also realized that it should have been just 24 hours before my wedding, I should be enjoying some sort of bachelorette-type cavorting, but instead, I headed shakily back to our room. And there it was, on the bed, a memo from Sendy: the wedding was back on. Woo hoo!

The day of my wedding, I woke up, went down to the pool, and put back a few vodka punches. I bought some $32 nail polish remover and fixed my manicure. I borrowed tweezers off of someone. And magically, just magically, the herpes had completely cleared up (I will never know how, nor do I care to question it…it did come back the next day, probably aggravated by the salt water, but at the point, I didn’t care one blessed ounce). Things were looking up for me, which means that Jason…well, Jason spent the morning on the bathroom floor, making friends with the porcelain throne. If I had stopped to think about it, I might have been insulted that he was nervous about marrying me, but he was mumbling things about 'too much buffet', and I just forged on ahead.

Jason and I got ready separately. In true bride fashion, my hair took longer than expected, and poor Jason paced alone. Finally, it was time to go. The photographer came to retrieve me. As I made my way from my room to the gazebo where we’d be married, the entire resort blasted the wedding march through its speakers. All the naked beach-goers came to clap and shout their congratulations. I made my way through a sea of naked boobies and tried to be nice to my feet (note: you know how things expand in the heat? Feet are no exception!), and at the end of the path: Jason. I remember how the wind blew my veil over to one side, and how handsome Jason looked in his tuxedo, and how I all of a sudden realized that the guitar trio were singing my name "Ohhhh Jamie Lee", over and over. I giggled at them, at the marvel of the situation, and from relief of having made it.

We got married at 3:50pm on a Tuesday afternoon. The ceremony was funny. I swore I was taking Jason as my ‘host’, but was later assured that the lady was indeed saying hose-band as best she could. Sendy and one of the guitar players became our new Dominican godparents. We sliced into a jam-filled cake. We drank strange Dominican champagne. They threw rice at us. Oh yeah, the rice. Let’s just say that what goes up must come down…down you’re the front of your dress. Each grain making its way down into your bustier, into every crevice imaginable. Then, bake at about 88 degrees for the rest of the day. Right. Under the dress, the crinoline, and the bustier, it was hot. Sweaty, even. I cooked the rice. When I took my bustier off that night, cooked rice fell out all over the floor. All over the bed. We found it under my boobs, in my hair, and some unmentionable places too. The maid came in every day of our honeymoon, but never quite got rid of all that rice.

Still to follow: the follies of our Canadian reception.

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