Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stranger of the Bride

Here's a little hint about remaining inconspicuous when crashing a wedding reception: It's probably best not to catch the bride's bouquet.

The bouquet toss was the furthest thing from my mind when I strolled into a local party hall on a Friday night. I was simply looking for a great time: a nice meal, a few drinks, and the opportunity to celebrate the wedded bliss of a wonderful couple. Sure, I'd never met either of them. A minor detail.

I wandered in and made a beeline to the bar: an obvious move.

First appearances mean so much. My beer was served in a real glass. No plastic cups for my fabulous, newly wedded BFFs. This was a classy kind of gig. I was pretty certain I would fit right in, if I weren't just some freeloading stranger walking in off the street.

Yet, I wasn't a true freeloader, since I had brought a congratulatory card with a gift card enclosed. I dropped it ceremoniously on the gift table and slowly swiveled my head around, hoping people might notice this, in validation of my presence.

Sadly, as I saw the line forming for the dessert table, I realized I missed dinner. If only I had actually been invited, I might have known what time the event started. But, I wasn't too late for libations--and a chance to mingle and dance with a hundred or so total strangers.

I joined a group of guests on the outdoor patio, and found myself fitting in more easily than expected. No one once questioned me or my relationship to the bride and groom. It was almost disappointing that I didn't have to conjure up any of the prefabricated stories I'd prepared on the drive there. (My name: Shelly. My relationship: Girlfriend of Jim Miller. He used to work with the groom. Where: Hmm. I can't remember. It was a few years ago. Hey, the bride's dress is gorgeous, don't you think?)

Mid-conversation with a cute guy just slightly younger than me, the bride approached, seemingly eager to join our discussion. I backed away, avoiding eye contact, and headed back to the bar.

When the DJ made the last-call for all single women to join in the bouquet toss, I realized it could be a great photo op: a shot of the unidentifiable backs of a group of women, lunging for the spray of flowers. So, I hurried over, stationing myself a few yards behind the line of waiting women. I pulled out my iPhone just as I heard the DJ begin his countdown.

As he finished, before I managed to find my phone's camera setting, I looked up to see the group of single women in front of me--and every wedding guest in the room--staring at me.

Apparently the bride was a former softball pitcher with a hell of an arm. Her throw landed the bouquet far past its intended aim. I glanced down to see it lying right next to my feet.

My eyes darted around the room, which had fallen uncomfortably silent. All eyes were focused on me. I had no choice, really.

I bent down, picked up the bouquet, and clutched it. I smiled stupidly.

As cameras flashed, my heart rate quickened. I pondered: What now?

A little girl came to my rescue. She ran over, tugged on my blouse, and said, "Can I have it?"

I smiled down at my small savior and said, "Honey, it's all yours."

I thrust the bouquet in her hands and walked straight to the exit, stopping only to deposit my half-finished beer at the bar. 

"I just accidentally caught the bouquet," I told the bartender. "Probably a good time for me to leave."

As I headed to the parking lot, I envisioned the bride and groom watching a replay of the video. When they got to the bouquet toss, they would look at each other in squinted confusion. "Who is that woman? Wait, you mean you don't know her either?"

Besides my mysterious image captured in digital photographs and video, all I left behind that night was my wedding card. I'd chosen it very thoughtfully. The pre-printed text read: "A toast to good friends: To a great couple, to your love, your future, and your happiness... and to the friendship that will keep us close always."

I signed it: "Thanks for an evening none of us will ever forget."

Yeah. Isn't that the truth.

Ever crashed a wedding reception? Would you have waited around for more photos? Do you think there's a warrant out for my arrest?

25 comments:

  1. Yes, I was in a scavenger hunt where you got points for having photos of your group taken in outrageous situations, and one was at a wedding reception you have crashed. Good times--that one was a high point value!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, this scavenger hunt sounds like loads of fun! What were some of the other outrageous items?

      Delete
    2. Having your group's pic taken with a live cow; with a horse; with everyone in one shower stall; and an automatic win if the group photo was taken with everyone naked! And several others that weren't really that outrageous--after all, you have to get some points! There is a time limit, and then everyone comes back and the scoring and boozing begins. Lots of fun!

      Delete
    3. This is one of the funniest--and funnest--party ideas I have ever heard! I might need to find a way to work this into my list... Thanks so much for sharing!

      Delete
  2. Why am I picturing you with a beer in one hand, iPhone in the other and a cigarette hanging out of your mouth in wonderment? Classic! You really need to get a pic. I don't know how, but it would be great for your book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the owner of the reception hall just "liked" the Facebook page post. So I would imagine getting a photo wouldn't be too tough...

      Earlier in the night, I did hand my camera to the wedding photographer and had her snap a shot, with a beer--but no bouquet--in my hand.

      Delete
  3. Fabulous experience on your list! So how did you go about choosing this wedding and did you prearrange ANYTHING with anyone or literally CRASH it? Funny read. Can't wait to read others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna: The only thing I planned ahead was buying a wedding card and a gift card--because I may be a wedding crasher, but I am not rude. Then I just drove around until I found a reception hall with cars in the parking lot. It was a nice place. I should go there more often.

      Delete
  4. I've never crashed, but I've attended several wedding receptions where I would have gladly given my seat away to anyone who ventured in!

    Rock on, Sherry! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Have been to a couple of those myself. Good thing I got there too late for dinner--I didn't have to worry about finagling myself into their planned seating chart.

      Delete
  5. I can't believe no one asked you how you knew the bride or groom?!? It must have been a big affair. I love that you got the bouquet and gave it to the little girl :) I don't think I could have done this alone, you are a brave, brave woman!

    --
    Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think if I had arrived early enough to eat, small talk at the dinner table would have been way tougher.

      This was one of those experiences that almost had to be done alone. That took it to a whole new level of awkward--and even fun--at least now that I can safely look back.

      Delete
  6. Hilarious on so many levels! I am literally still chuckling :) I once "joined" a bachelorette party because everyone was buying them rounds and shots. I figured, "What the heck? I'm single, female, and thirsty!" Keep writing; I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a perfect justification, Cathy. In fact, I think it should have warranted you an invitation to the wedding.

      Thanks for reading and chiming in!

      Delete
  7. Great way to start your blog back up and continue your 52/52 project. mom (don't know how to do the publish other than under Anonymous - so I for now, am your Anonymous Mother)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mom: Glad you were available when I called on my drive home that night. Although we were both laughing so hard I'm surprised I managed to spurt out the details...

      Delete
  8. I've never crashed a wedding... (absolutely no way I would have the guts to do that), but my dad did, long ago. He used to be an insurance fraud investigator and there was a woman who had filed a disability claim. Dad learned that she was about to be married, so he and his partner crashed the wedding.

    Dad was even asked to take pictures of the wedding party, and at one point, he was all ready to dance with the bride, until his partner pulled him out.

    But, the moral of the story is, if you want to file a disability claim, it's best not to be photographed doing the polka at your wedding.

    ReplyDelete
  9. i've never crashed a wedding, but i was with my grandmother once when she mistakenly crashed a funeral, thinking it was part of a wax museum exhibit. we were touring a historic fort in Puerto Rico, when my grandmother jumped ahead of the tour and entered a room that was closed for a private event, "Oh my god! these figures look so life like!" and then they all turned and looked at her like the crazy America tourist she was.

    Good luck on this journey and all the other new directions you are taking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Oh, my! I can only imagine her (and your) face as those not-so-wax figures turned to face you!

      Thanks for the good wishes, Josey. I need all the luck I can get!

      Delete
    2. Whenever I'm stuck in a hotel on the road, I crash whatever's there. For example - real estate seminars. Educational stuff with free lunches. Wedding receptions are more fun.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Man I wish you would have left your card in the card, so they would "get" who the stranger was with the bouquet and know to buy your book, which contains a piece of history from their wedding. Did you ever get the couple's name? You've got to send them the book!!! Or get a picture for your book! Too funny. You are one very brave lady!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As luck (good or bad?) would have it, I posted this story and a photo on FB and found out the next day that the owner of the reception hall follows the 52/52 Project! Fortunately, he thought it was a hoot. If I decide to send the happy couple a book, I'm sure he can provide the names...

      Delete