Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Wedding Gig

July 7, 2007. Most astrological people considered this day to be the luckiest in the universe. It was a great day to have a wedding.

The Saturday started out fine. My business partner, who was a florist, had finished the last of the arrangements. I had taped up the box with the wedding programs. The truck was already packed with all the stuff we would need to decorate the banquet hall. Scheduled to meet the bride at 9a.m, we started our journey out at 7:30. Plenty of time to meet her there and get started.

By 8:30, we reached the reception site. It was a very large hall (a welcome change from the sardine types) as we made our way through the unlocked front doors.

The place was a mess.

Obviously, someone had planned an event in there the night before. Obviously, by the end of the party, not one person was sober enough to clean up before leaving. Spilled food still covered the tables. Puddles of watery substances were everywhere on the floor. Someone had broken off the thermostat cover during their wild party. In their attempt to fix it, they had unobtrusively tucked it away under the stall in the Ladies’ bathroom.

The scene shocked us. Then we became even more flabbergasted when the cleanup crew, which consisted of the janitor and two volunteers, walked in and told us to get out.

"We’re here to decorate for a wedding," the florist explained. But the janitor shook his head.

"The manager told the bride Thursday that you could start decorating at noon. You can’t be here right now."

Noon? The ceremony started at 1:00 and the reception was at 3:00. How in the world were we supposed to get all the tables rearranged, covered, and decorated by then? We looked at the cleanup crew, they looked at the enormous mess that the three of them alone couldn’t get finished in time, and the janitor shrugged his shoulders.

Suddenly, my business partner and I became recruited to their team.

So the five of us mopped and swept and scrubbed to get the place looking decent. Then the grateful janitor stayed to help us with our work (one good turn deserves another). We had the banquet hall mostly decorated by the time the bride appeared - at noon.

"I’m here!" she said grandly to the room. The bride looked around at the decorations. "I thought you would have done more by now? Are these the floral vases we agreed on? Don’t you have more candles?"

The florist’s face turned red. The line on her brow twitched as I smoothly moved to stand in front of her to block her line of sight of the bride.

My business partner had a reason to be angry. Weeks before at a meeting, she had shown the bride how everything would look, both the flowers and the candles, and nothing had changed since then. Even worse was that the bride had shortchanged her on the last payment, claiming that the people at her job had moved back her paycheck schedule by a week. Yeah. Right.

Why was the bride nitpicking over everything now? One could guess.

I explained to the bride what had happened, as she made tsk-tsk sounds at convenient times during the narrative. When the florist had cooled down enough to step forward, the bride complimented her on all the decorations before rushing away to use the Ladies’ room. After ten minutes of waiting, we walked into the restroom, concerned that something had happened to her.

The bride was gone. She had darted through the door when we weren’t watching and had left the banquet hall.

Well, the florist was steaming. Yet she stayed and finished her setup as we waited for the clock on the wall to slowly move its hands to point at the 3 and the 12.

The guests started to enter the hall and mill around their seats, but in no time did they come up to us with the same question: "Was there anything to drink?"

Drink? After explaining to them that we were just the decorators, we realized a strange fact. Not only was there nothing to drink, but no one was in the kitchen and the refrigerators were empty.

Both families appeared shocked by the news that the caterers were no-shows. Aunts and uncles scrambled about trying to figure out what had happened, then they got organized on what they would do to fix the problem. Just as quickly as they had arrived, cars began driving off to grocery stores and fast food outlets. By the time the family returned with a variety of dishes for the hungry guests, the limousine with the bride and groom arrived.

Next to the sullen-looking DJ, a woman held up a microphone and began reading names off the printed program as she introduced the wedding party. Then in came the bride and groom, strutting like the king and queen of the prom, as they took their appointed seats and thanked everyone for coming to the reception.

An hour later, the same woman who spoke into the microphone approached my business partner. The wedding party wanted to make toasts to the happy couple and she needed to know where we had stored the champagne.

Past being annoyed and bordering on raging impatience, the florist threw her hands up in the air. "We are not the caterers! Aren’t you supposed to know where it is since you’re the wedding director?"

"I’m not the wedding director," the woman said, "I’m the photographer. The bride asked me about the champagne and I told her that I would find out."

Oh, god. The florist rolled her eyes as I came over to listen in on the conversation. We explained to her on why we were still there, then she told us the same story on why she was still there. After letting a family member know about the champagne situation, we all found a table and sat down, thoroughly frustrated now.

At the end of the reception, the bride excused herself to the restroom as she carried the card box in with her. When she emerged, her hands were full of money as she paid off the photographer, the dour DJ, and then finally the florist.

Barely thanking the bride, we took our exit with a full hour’s drive back home. In the parking lot, we heard two of the guests gossiping.

"Did you hear what happened? There was a party in the banquet hall last night and they had a door prize of $1000. Give you one guess on who won?"

The other person shook his head. "The bride. She was bragging about it to my wife. She said she was saving it for their honeymoon down in the Bahamas."

"Lucky her," the first man commented.

After a slam of the truck doors, I looked at my business partner as she looked at me. I started the engine as the music from the radio covered up our sighs.

July 7, 2007: The luckiest day in the universe.

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