Sunday, October 19, 2008

...Something borrowed, and some Voodoo

When you wake up on your wedding day in New Orleans and have no voice with which to say your vows there's really only one solution: Head down to the French Quarter and find yourself some white magic. Of course, the magic you find in the French Quarter these days is dispensed by white girls with tribal tattoos and probably not as effective as something I might have found in a cemetery on a moonless night 100 years ago (if you believe in that sort of thing.) But was a fun idea and at that point I had nothing to lose. So a Yankee delegation descended upon The Quarter looking for some voodoo.

We went for a big name, Marie LaVeau's, and the woman behind the counter offered me a gris-gris and some advice, "Just relax honey." It was nice advice, I wanted to take it. I didn't feel particularly nervous though. I was a little wound up about throwing a giant party that night but really, not the type of nervous that would manifest itself in some Freudian inability to speak my vows. So, after the voodoo shop we went over to Pat O'Briens to try a little "Irish" cure.

The idea was to get a hot toddy. This is not something a person usually orders in a French Quarter bar though so it seemed like we were out of luck. We sat down anyway and after the waitress listened to my friends discussing what sort of liquor I should be doing a shot of, she took an interest. "Oh chile, I've heard of cold feet before but you take the cake!" And with that she went off to brew me some hot tea. The whiskey and tea made me all warm and tingly for a little while and then my cousin and I decided to head back to the hotel, where I had set up camp for the week.

Everyone spent the day trying to convince me to not try to talk, or even whisper. But it was useless. There was too much going on, too many people milling about and too many things to communicate. Most of my friends resorted to text messaging my phone but that didn’t work with my mom and after a bath and some loud music I resigned myself to croaking my way through the day and the wedding in hopes that not caring about it any longer would make the whole thing go away.

And then I took half a Valium.

The rest of the afternoon was considerably unremarkable, except for a few random panic attacks, (probably just should have taken the whole Valium.) My hair was done, my makeup was done, everyone made themselves really pretty and we all piled into the longest limo I have ever been in. Like a freakin football field I tells ya!

We got to the venue and I think that’s when I really started freaking out. Let me tell you, I am really tired of people asking me if I was/am nervous about marriage. I am not, not at all. The Husband and I have been living together for about four years now. This whole issue of “marriage” isn’t at all the daunting part of actually getting married. What really freaked me out was all of the make up and the hairspray and the fancy dress and the people staring at me.

You may be thinking to yourself “But Jen, uh you’ve been in theater for like ever. What’s up with this stage fright?”

First of all, I haven’t really been on stage since high school. Second of all, being backstage means you get to call the shots and no one knows you exist. Being the bride in a wedding means a lot of having to relinquish control of the event to other, better trained people, or you’ll go mad. Mad I tell you!! It also involves a lot of concentrating on where you are walking in high heels and ensuring your make up doesn’t run all the way down your face when the groomsmen make you cry by tearing up on the alter. (Thanks a lot you tough guys.)

It helped a lot to know that everyone up on that alter was a dear friend, including the officiant. He had been aware of my voice problems all day and tried to artfully angle his lapel mic in my direction during the ceremony. I think I had exactly enough voice left for a harsh little “I Will.” And then it was back to the croak/whisper I had been perfecting all day.

By that time it didn’t matter though. Half of the audience knew I had no voice and the other half thought it was super cute that I was too nervous to speak. Whatever they thought, people laughed through a lot of that ceremony. Which is how we like it.

The rest of the night is a blur of candle light and peoples’ mouths moving. I really have no recollection of what anyone said to me, or what I might have said to anyone else. So, you know, if we had some sort of deep, meaningful conversation at any point after 6pm that night, forgive me, it’s totally gone. I remember maybe five songs that I danced to. I had exactly four bites of food and one bite of cake.

When I came back to work the week afterwards one of the girls in my office asked if the most fun I had were the times I was in the bathroom and I realized that after we left the hotel I didn’t go to the bathroom again that night until the after-party. Is that weird? The girl at the office seemed to think so. I just never stopped moving. Except for that one time I had to stop to take off my shoes. I believe that was after the “New York, New York” kick line my cousins and I improvised. We’ll all try to start on the left foot next time I think.

Overall it seems like we know how to throw a good party. It helps that it was in New Orleans, City Most Likely To Have A Good Party. But it also didn’t hurt that everyone we know is totally rad and were complete champs about getting to know each other, party with each other and all around unselfconsciously be complete lunatics around each other. I would really like to go back and get married again and send my stunt double in to do the dirty work so I could be a guest. The strangest part about a wedding is how completely in the middle of everything you are but, at the same time, completely removed from everything going on around you.

All I really had time to do was catch a couple of quick words here and there and then move on either to the dance floor or some other social group. It wasn’t until the day after the wedding, and the days following our return to Chicago that I started hearing about the side dramas and all of the random shenanigans that, were it not for the wedding, I would totally have been a part of. I can’t really say that I’m sorry I missed all of that stuff. I did, you know, have plenty to keep me busy. It’s just weird. That’s all I’m saying. Weddings are weird.

Also weird? Pirates. But that’s totally a story for another time.

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