Nothing Is Simple: Wedding Bell Blues

Jun 16

wed_88.jpgI  just got an e-mail, The ABCs of Living Well, the letter S standing for “Seek Simplicity.” Oh yeah? Listen closely. Seek all you want, my lovelies, nothing is simple.

As you may know, I got married after living with my guy for 19 years. (Confessions Of An Encore Bride)  I wasn’t afraid of marriage (hey, I really know this man), but I was afraid of the . . . wedding.

Be afraid, be very afraid.
At a time when spending thousands on flowers is not considered unusual and you are expected to have a virtual coronation —an engagement party, a rehearsal party, bachelor (and bachelorette) parties, an elaborate reception, an after-the wedding breakfast  — I got hives just thinking about it. You are pressured to have the best wedding dress ever seen on this or any other continent, and must orchestrate an affair that rivals the royal wedding of Princess Diana. And, may she rest in peace, we know how well that turned out.

I did get a great dress! Not a white, full length gown (What do I look like, the virgin bride?), but this fabulous silvery sheath dress and beautiful short jacket from Teri Jon. And, you won’t believe this, but I got it first shot out of the box on a day that Lord & Taylor was giving away coupons. With free alterations! This had to be an omen that everything else would go along just as easily.

As you probably guessed, it wasn’t . . .

This wedding was going to be 35 people, family and a few very close friends, and Diana, my ex-business partner and the shopping guru who helped me get the dress, offered to have it at her place, a great apartment with breathtaking views. Perfect! We’d get a terrific caterer and serve lots and lots of champagne. We just needed to move the piano from her son’s room into the living area so that two of my talented friends could perform the parody songs we like to write together.

Simple, right? Remember what I told you. Nothing is simple.

First of all, I invited a few too many people (I couldn’t help myself) then couldn’t get a real count of who was coming.  E-mails! Phone calls! Panic in the streets! In the end, some came, others didn’t, we had a few more people than we should have, and it was basically okay.

Although the caterer ( did an absolutely wonderful job (it all just flowed in a seamless way), I, being the bride and all, had to make what seemed like endless decisions beforehand and discuss them with Diana (the groom was oblivious). The menu, the hors d’oeurve (all I knew was that I didn’t want pigs in the blanket), the servers, how we’d arrange the furniture and on and on and on. My To-Do Lists were updated daily and my “W Thing” file was the size of Cleveland. I started to feel like Pat Of the Thousand Details, and I am lousy at details.

The icing on the cake, literally, was the first glitch.
In my naiveté, I thought you just ordered a wedding cake. You know, the ones with lots of layers and white icing and decorations and stuff. But oh no. There were yet more decisions: dimension, number of tiers, butter cream or fondant, white cake or yellow (white is prettier, yellow tastes better), and so it went. I ordered butter cream with two layers, then had second thoughts (better about the cake than the marriage) that it wouldn’t be big enough (also better about the cake), and changed the order. I worried about it until the actual wedding when a) it was fine and b) I had had enough champagne not to care.The cake-maker, by the way, was very . . . sweet. ( and the cake was de-lish.

About the champagne: well, I had planned on wine as well because strange as this is for me to comprehend, some people actually don’t like champagne. And then, when I mentioned this to my brother, he said “What, no vodka?” And so, I changed the liquor order too, to include vodka and scotch. I drew the line at beer.

The flowers by Jo Ann Fellan turned out to be lovely, and although they cost a fraction of what I heard they could be, something is wrong with a world where the flowers cost more than the booze. And we had cases and cases of that.

And then there were the shoes . . .
I have written  about the heartbreak of wearing a difficult to find shoe size, 6½ narrow, which is practically extinct.
(My Shoe Story: Why Size Matters)  I had the dress, I had the pearls, I even had the right slightly molded bra: all I needed were the shoes. (There’s a song in there somewhere.) And so the search began. I won’t bore you with all the details, but let me say that I spoke to Stewart Weitzman personally, and now know on a first name basis all the guys at Eneslow shoes who rebuilt the pair of gorgeous silver mesh pumps from Weitzman that were, alas, not the right size.

A half dozen visits to the repair guys and $125 in charges later, I had shoes I could bear (barely) to put on, but that even Alberto Gonzales would have to qualify as instruments of torture. Sigh. And the silky silvery stockings I loved bagged at the ankles: thank god I did a dress rehearsal (literally) in time to get another pair (and a spare) of light grayish ones that weren’t as perfect, but fit. Interesting, in my one actual nightmare during all this I dreamt that my pantyhose fell down during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, our song-writing sessions were great. The two performers, Alex Simmons ( and Bill McCay and I met in my a_weddding_tonight.jpgapartment, drank wine and got to be silly. We came up with some really fun parodies, including the opening number, A Wedding Tonight from Stephen Sondheim’s A Comedy Tonight, and one of Let’s Do it (Let’s Tie the Knot), some fun ethnic stuff (Hava-Nice Wedding, anyone?) and our very own version of  Luna Mezzo Mare, which you might remember from the Godfather, with the chorus “Oh Mamma, Piscia Fritta Baccala,” which means “Oh Mama, fried fish.” No one seems to know the significance of this, but it’s fun to sing.

We created a song booklet, and on the cover was the Godfather wedding —with our heads photo-shopped in as the bride and groom.

But just before the wedding, the piano player we had hired refused to play on the electric piano in the apartment, therefore creating a mad scramble to rent one. The only response you could have to the quoted price for that was, “I want to rent it, not buy it,” but I was worn down enough to cough up the dough, when just in time, I heard about another piano player, a guy named David Lewis who not only could “play on anything,” but could play (and sing) anything. Our songs were saved!

What Really Put Me Over the Top Was The Flute Player
The show we presented at the wedding was a huge success. I even got my cousin, Pat Cisarano, who Tony Bennett has called the best white blues singer of today, to do a few numbers for us. We also had a jazz flautist, Tristan Cunningham, a rising star who’s studying at the New School. He was great. But the day it was suggested to me that he play, three days before the wedding, I went into total overload and couldn’t make a decision. Song parodies. A piano player. A blues singer. And now a flautist? Would it be too much? I wanted this simple, remember? But David said it would be okay, and so The Flute Player Stayed In The Picture.

The Media Was NOT Alerted . . .
All though this whole thing, people kept giving me suggestions of What I Should Do. All of which I ignored. But getting an announcement in The New York Times? Well now, that could be fun. Ha. Let me tell you this: if you decide to get married— even after reading all this— and you really want that announcement, make sure you’re prepared to sign away your first born, and that you get the info in at least six weeks before the event. It was, mercifully, way too late, and my contact at the Times has moved on, so I was spared the effort of getting them everything they require, including a photo of the bride and groom where the eyes are at the same level. I’m not making this up.
After all this, it was a great wedding!
A total triumph. Even the judge was funny: When we asked him to finish up quicker, he said that he only cut it short at a bris. And don’t get me wrong, the ceremony was also touching. I was glad I had sprung for the waterproof mascara.

Comments from the guests include: “Wowee!” “Swanky and fun”, “Best show in town!” (of course, there was a strike on Broadway, so we were the only show in town, but a good review is a good review), “Better than any of my weddings” (and he should know),  “Cool” (a teenager), “Not boring” (another teenager). These last too are raves.

I did it, and I’m glad, and I’ll never do it again. And New York Times, take note: you missed a great photo op.

Any wedding stories for me?
Leave a comment: it’s easier than planning a wedding . . .

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