The sun was shining at 9am on June 12th, and many people came to our very odd Friday morning marriage ceremony in Jackson’s Gardens on Union College campus. The wooded garden backdrop looked beautiful in the photos; I wish I could say the same for us in the foreground. The bright sun had us all squinting into the camera and the humidity contributed to a very, very bad hair day. I curled and curled on that last morning I was to wake up in the twin bed in my room in my parents’ house, but nothing held. My hair was a frizzy, limp, formless mess that looked like I had rolled out of bed and loosely pinned a veil to try to cover up the mop on my head. For some inexplicable reason, Lou decided to part his hair on the side, which I have never seen him do before. The fraternity brothers call him Eddie Munster because of his typical straight-back black hair interrupted by the capital V running down the center of his big forehead formed by an indelible widow’s peak. The thick, wavy hair combed over that lump in the middle also created a cowlick in the back and made him look like a giant five-year-old Baby Huey with a moustache. Memorable.
I did finally meet Lou’s mom and sister, Debra the night before the wedding. They took the bus from Long Island, and I got them a free room at my hotel. The four of us went to dinner at Mother Ferro’s, where Lou and I had our first date. They were both very nice; it was as if there had never been any issues, making it difficult to imagine that he had no contact with his family in almost two years.
The wedding was simple. Nico borrowed his stepfather’s Cadillac, so I had a nice car in which to arrive to the gardens. Most of the wedding guests were fraternity brothers. Lou’s mom and sister were his only family members, but a few of his old friends also came from Long Island. My family isn’t big, but they were all there, as well as a few of my childhood friends, Bruce, Kathy, and even many of my parent’s magician friends I’ve known all my life. The minister was also a magic club member. It was a quick ceremony, so we didn’t bother with any arches, ribbons, decorations, or even seating, with the exception of one folding chair for my grandmother. My brother-in-law video-taped, and one of the frat brothers took photos.
The garden setting created a couple of issues we had not anticipated. One issue was that we were directly under the flight path for the airport, and the loud jets flying low overhead occasionally drowned out the minister’s voice entirely. Another was a persistent bee that kept buzzing around the magical-minister’s head. He didn’t flinch, but I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud. My dad walked me down the open aisle naturally formed by the standing guests, and was at the front, between Lou and me, dutifully giving me away for an eternity, squeezing my hand tightly and fighting back his own giggles while his eyes followed the bee. My sister was maid of honor, because my very pregnant, very single, very best girlfriend, Kathy, had refused the role. I actually think she just didn’t want to do it because she can’t stand Lou. I told my sister to wear whatever she wanted; she self-imposed a stereotypical bridesmaid’s flowing dress, complete with the floppy hat and ribbons. Louie and Nico each bought matching blue suits that were cheaper than renting a tux.
After the ceremony, we took family photos in the garden, and everyone else headed over to the reception. Lou and I had some solo pictures and were among the last to leave; when we got to the Cadillac, we found it was locked with no keys in sight. The brother who had driven me over had walked back to the fraternity house already to help set up, with the keys safely in his pocket. So, the small pack of us trekked across the campus green, me in my grass-stained wedding dress and white high heels. It was unexpected and fun, and certainly memorable.
The reception in the dining area of the frat house was as informal as a family barbecue. On the previous day, I scrubbed down the filthy house kitchen, prepped and cooked the food and stored it in the big fridge, ready to be served. My family and others helped re-heat the chicken and set up the buffet table while I milled around chatting with guests before lunch. The fraternity brothers generously opened up the house bar for everyone. We only had one bottle of champagne and four real glasses, just enough for a single toast for the maid of honor, best man, Lou, and me. The whole thing was no-frills and really cheap. It had to be. We didn’t have money for a party, and I would not even consider asking my parents to pay. My mom had taken a cake-decorating course specifically so she could make our wedding cake; it was delicious and pretty. Like the tower in Pisa, it leaned a little to one side, but it was perfect. The wedding was also perfect for me. I didn’t need a big, fancy shindig. It was just important for me to share the occasion with people we cared about, and to not just elope alone. My family and my closest friends were there. When we left the reception, they all lined up and pelted elbow macaroni at us, because I didn’t buy the little rice packets, confetti, or anything normal to throw for good luck as we set off on our married lives. The pasta was not my idea and was also unexpected memorable fun.
It started pouring rain when Nico drove us in the Caddy to our wedding night destination. We had the honeymoon suite, which meant a round waterbed and a Jacuzzi in our room at the no-tell-motel. You can rent their rooms by the hour, but we had it for the whole weekend, and Lou paid for X-rated movies for the duration. In between the feature presentations, they kept playing the same previews over and over. One of the deep voice-overs is stuck in my head like a bad song, “You will never forget, the velvet touch of the velvet tongue.” All weekend long. I can never forget. Memorable. We had an awesome night. In the morning, Nico and Mia called from the motel lobby and came to the room and drank champagne with us.