Here they come—the very few remaining loved ones that will still attend this charade. There’s Grandpa Ernie, wearing his pajamas. He says Grandma would’ve loved to be here; she just chose not to be. And there’s Mom and Dad. I was getting worried they wouldn’t show after Dad responded to my RSVP with a thumbs up emoji. Not to mention my youngest brother Craig, oldest second cousin once removed Amanda, and my best man Jerry—a guy I found on Craigslist.
Look at that gift table, all two items! But that’s alright. The last thing I need is another housewarming gift (i.e. an awkwardly shaped vase that doesn’t match anything else about my place).
Everyone makes their way to their seats through the aisle. We don’t follow the traditional order (bride’s mother, groom, best man, and so on). By your fifth wedding, you get great at trimming the fat. Now everyone just goes straight to the same seat they had last time. I fired the flower girl two marriages ago. I’ve already got enough kids to clean up after.
Words of Welcome
Now I stand beneath the shining altar and crave food from the golden arches. The officiant, Craig (who did this for all the previous ones but recently started charging me) welcomes everyone. “Yup. We’re here. Again.”
The officiant now offers thoughts on marriage. Typically, these are descriptions of how important and unbreakable this bond is. But words like those would be insulting now. Craig knows better. “We’re here today because rules were made to be broken, and apparently so are sacred vows.”
Attendees are now invited up to share readings. Dad walks up and reads passages from a motivational book titled, If You Can’t Succeed, Try Again. If You Still Can’t Succeed, Stop Pulling the Rest of Us Down with You (which I think is too long for a book title, but then again I seem to dislike anything that lasts long). Grandpa Ernie is confused and begins reading from his Nissan Versa car manual, but one of the lines feels oddly relevant: “If it still won’t run after four tries, there is a bigger issue at play.”
Officiant Addresses Couples
Traditionally, this is when the officiant explains the responsibilities of marriage. We skip this step.
Exchange of Vows
Now my fiancé and I will share vows with each other. They talk about how much better their life has been with me and reminisce about nights we spent together at cheap motels while our spouses were paying a private investigator. I wipe tears from my eyes and give a heartwarming speech (the same one I use every time). Not that it matters, mostly everyone is scrolling their phone.
I look over at the best man and, hey, where’d he go? Oh, he’s at the open bar getting alcohol poisoning on my dime.
We place rings on each others’ fingers. For me, this feeling is nostalgic.
The officiant (who’s tired of doing this) says, “You may now kiss the bride.” Within a split second of the kiss, he says, “You may now stop.”
I’ve tried many different ones through the years. Early on, my partner and I tied two pieces of rope together, but shortly after a dog chewed it to pieces. Last time, we mixed two different colors of sand, but after the divorce it took forever to separate them. The idea is to show the two parties combining, so we considered making a baby, but Grandpa Ernie likely wouldn’t enjoy that—or even worse, what if he did? This time, we’re taking a glass and pouring in water and oil. At first, they mix, but over time they’ll separate. I’m staying realistic. What? We can always grab a stir stick.
The officiant wishes us luck. And he means it. Believe you me, he wants this to be the last time.
The officiant begins to introduce us as an officially married couple and encourages everyone seated to applaud.
Sadly, they’ve already left.