I went to a non-Jewish wedding. It was a nightmare. If you’ve ever seen the Martin Scorsese movie “After Hours” you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about.
This wedding was in a place called The Countryside. I don’t know exactly where that is. It doesn’t matter really. All I know is that there are no Jews there. It was midwinter, and we had been invited to the reception only, the church being too small to accommodate everyone. That suited us just fine. It’s cold enough in the winter, but even colder inside a church, strangely.
The venue for the reception was an old Tudor manor house and we were invited for 7pm. Perfect. We spent a relaxing day exploring The Countryside and then changed into our formal get-up before making our way to the dinner and dance. As we entered the place we were aware that there weren’t many people around, but were assured that this was the right location. Ushered into a large and dimly lit room that doubled as a cold storage warehouse, we found two other couples and a small bar. It turned out that we weren’t early, but that the main party hadn’t yet finished eating and were somewhere else in the building.
I asked if there would be any more to eat, since, with the time gone 7pm I was likely to faint if I was to be denied my evening meal. “Oh yes,” I was told, “there’ll be sausage rolls and chipolatas later”. “What!” I demanded, “When was the evening meal being served?” It transpired that the wedding party was, in fact, coming to the end of the evening meal and we had been invited to drive all the way to The Countryside for a disco. Who on earth sits down for their evening meal at four in the afternoon? More to the point, who invites someone to a party for 7pm without feeding them?
So there we were, in the middle of nowhere and I was in the early stages of starvation. Well, I thought, since we’re here let’s have a drink and consider our options. I approached the bar, and as I did so noticed a chalkboard announcing the prices for the drinks. I hadn’t brought my wallet. Why would I? Who needs money at a wedding? I had never felt so humiliated. First no food, and now I had to pay for my drinks. What was this? A business initiative?
There was only one thing we could do. We drove back to our B&B to pick up my debit card and a couple of warm jumpers. We then drove through about 20 villages before we found a hole-in-the-wall and then searched for something to eat, eventually queuing for fish and chips (in black-tie). We ate in the car, being careful not to drip grease into our laps.
After a round trip of about 50 miles we arrived back at the party, which was, by now, in full swing. Some people were dancing so enthusiastically that the icicles were falling from the ends of their noses and they were slipping in the puddles that were forming at their feet.
The bar tender was unimpressed by my request for two Cokes. It appears I should have been ordering large measures of vodka with them. To be fair I could see his point; this could easily have been Siberia, after all. I only ordered Coke because they weren’t doing hot chocolate. Fortunately, by now it was so late that we didn’t need to stay long and furthermore, the bride and groom were so schicker that they would have neither noticed nor remembered our presence. We quickly said our good-byes and retreated to the B&B.
It was a truly sobering lesson. While we Jews kvetch about the cost of putting on a wedding that has to be even more spectacular than the Goldberg do last year, the gentiles have got it all worked out. When it comes to my turn to host a wedding party, God willing, I’ll be attaching invoices to the invitations.