(Thank Goodness for) The Rehearsal Dinner

Rest assured: I will not be tying the knot at Tyler Arboretum.  But before we get to Date #7’s brother’s wedding and my near death-by-exposure, shrapnel, mudslide and drowning on Saturday night, let’s start with the rehearsal dinner, shall we?

I arrive exactly ten minutes early.  I don’t know if it’s the chill in the air or the fact that I’m about to meet someone’s parents for the first time in the history of my exploits on Match.com, but I am shivering.  I’m also sporting a rather precarious H&M spaghetti strap top paired with vintage bolero jacket which means I look great but my bra keeps conspiring to pop out of the top of my blouse so I’m afraid that my first impression won’t be quite as classy as I’d hoped.

I call one of my girlfriends out in California, hoping she’ll be off work and able to distract me with tales of her love life, but my fingers are shaking so badly that I call barely dial and when I do, it goes straight through to voicemail.

Granted, I wouldn’t be quite so nervous if I knew for certain that Date #7 was just around the corner—if, for example, he had texted me say, “Hey!  The rehearsal is just finishing up—we’ll be on our way soon,”   but who are we kidding?  Communication is not his forte and for all I know I’m at the wrong restaurant, at the wrong time.

I really want to just grab a drink from the bar (especially as “drink!” emerged as the the underlying theme in response to last week’s rehearsal dinner post) but I’m afraid I won’t finish it in time, and then I’ll run the risk of A) looking like a total lush if and when introductions are finally made and B) inadvertently dousing Date #7’s entire family in red wine while attempting to shake hands.

Finally, the moment of truth arrives, and with it comes Date #7, just steps behind the bride who is, for whatever reason, carrying a hockey stick and looking rather frazzled.  Date #7 smiles, makes his way down the hall and sweeps me into his arms.

“It’s good to see you,” he says, planting a quick kiss on my cheek, “Thank you for coming.”

He’s properly dressed.  He’s on time.  His cell phone is charged.  I’m aghast.

For a brief moment, I see a glimmer of hope—maybe this weekend won’t be so bad after all!—but then we head down to wine cellar where all of the private parties are held and after staring at the ceiling for a while, I’m left to introduce myself to the bride.

“Oh yeah, sorry,” Date #7 mumbles, “Kat, this is So-and-So, my brother’s fiancé.”

“Please!” I guffaw, “we’ve already taken care of it.”

“Seriously,” the bride echoes, “If we were waiting on you, we’d be waiting all day!”

Of course, being that we’re both women, we manage to smile and make our voices sound light and teasing as opposed to harsh and critical but I’m really hoping that it’s not going to be a whole weekend of this… especially because… well, I’ve made this very same mistake.  Rather often, in fact.  Mostly when I’m with my mom, and it really pisses her off, and now I can see why.  I can also see why they say “opposites attract.”  I mean, how the hell are two socially awkward folks meant to carry on the legacy of the Hooper’s Island Martini Bar Soiree?  It would be all transcendental meditation and Hot Pockets (and call me crazy, but that’s not the life I see for myself).

Fortunately Date #7’s parents are bit more gracious than he and I’m seated between Date #7 and the minister, who turns out to be such a complete and utter character that I probably ought to reserve an entire post just for him.

Drinks are served, introductions are made and I drink an entire glass of red wine on a nearly empty stomach.  By the time Date #7’s father asks, “Dance anthropology?  What exactly does that entail?” I’m in the zone.

I make small talk with Date #7’s youngest brother and his partner (who agrees to be my “wedding BFF” for the weekend so I won’t get lost during all of the family-only stuff), I congratulate his mother on the upcoming marriage of her son and I spend about ten minutes talking to the bride’s father about our shared Latino heritage.

I’m actually surprised at my own conduct.  I’m not usually good in these sorts of situations, but ply me with a glass of wine and the knowledge that it’s my responsibility and mine alone to enjoy myself?  Well, I’m unstoppable.

The wine is flowing and I’ve got to admit: so far, this doesn’t suck.

Now, if I could only get to the bottom of what the hell I’m supposed to wearing tomorrow…

One of the main reasons I’ve agreed to accompany Date #7 to his brother’s wedding is that I’d been told it was “formal.”  As in black tie.  As in I’d finally have an excuse to pull out one of the evening gowns from the growing collection of bargain basement dust collectors in my closet.

“You know its outside, right?” Date #7’s youngest brother asks me somewhere between the ravioli and the chocolate cake.


I cast a sidelong glance in the direction of Date #7.  This is news to me.

“You’re going to be cold if you wear an evening gown,” he continues.  “I mean, you’ll need a wrap at least.”

I nod.  The wrap goes without saying, but what I’m more concerned about is the dress.  The dress has been a bone of contention between Date #7 and I ever since he first mentioned the word “wedding.”  It would seem that his interpretation of “formal” is entirely different than mine, and judging from Saturday’s comments, he’s not the only man who’s completely baffled by the difference between black tie and semi-formal attire.

(But don’t worry: Zak has decided to write an entire post on the subject sometime this week and I’m going to collaborate so those of your who are completely confounded by such things won’t have to wallow in ignorance for much longer.)

I decide it’s high time to get to the bottom of this: how am I supposed to be proper arm candy if I don’t know what to wear?  And if I do have to wear a different dress, I’m going to need to re-think my entire ensemble: shoes, accessories, hairstyle… the whole nine yards.

I think about asking his mother—but Date #7 has already asked his mother, and her response (at least as he relayed it) wasn’t terribly reassuring.

My next thought is to ask my new “wedding BFF.”  If I can deduce what he’s wearing (as a fellow non-related, non-member of the wedding party), I’ll be able to deduce what I should be wearing.  A tux on his part equals an evening gown on mine, whereas a suit or sports coat means I’ll be digging out the same damn dress I’ve already worn to two weddings this year.

It’s really not that complicated—at least it shouldn’t be—but judging by the fact that the rehearsal dinner is rather informal (ie. the majority of the men are wearing polo shirts), I can’t really see this crowd rockin’ evening gowns and tuxedos.

Finally, the bride herself appears at our table to hand out the “agendas” for the big day.  Date #7 just laughs and hands me his copy, saying “Here, I know you care about this more than I do.”  And he’s right: I’m already memorizing where and when he needs to be because in the hour and a half that I’ve known his mother, I’ve come to realize that she, like most mothers, is the only one who has a clue in her family.   And unlike my mother, she doesn’t have the benefit of a daughter to counterbalance all of the male dimwittedness.

Of course, it’s not really the agenda I’m concerned with; it’s my dress and if I don’t want to spend the next 24 hours worrying that I’m going to end up the laughing stock of the entire affair, I need to ask the bride herself.  She’ll know.

“Quick question,” I whisper.  “I don’t really trust [Date #7] on this one: is it formal for tomorrow?”

She looks confused.

“Black tie?” I suggest.

Now she looks really confused.

I try to simplify it for her—she is, after all, the bride, and if she’s gone through all the trouble of typing up agenda for tomorrow, she obviously knows that the male quotient of her bridal party needs a bit of prodding.

“Should. I. Wear. An. Evening. Gown?”

“Oh!” she shakes her head.  “No, you don’t have to.  I just don’t want people wearing jeans.”

As if I would be caught dead going to a wedding in jeans.


10 Responses to “(Thank Goodness for) The Rehearsal Dinner”

  1. Meghan

    I have to say, Date #7’s penchant for ignoring important details and such as “formal” or “semi-formal” and disregarding agendas for celebratory events are qualities my current significant other possesses. They used to drive me up a wall, but they never turned out to be dealbreakers – and over time I’ve learned that his dismissal of societal dress codes and ennui over travel itineraries were not reflective of his feelings for me. It’s like the male equivalent of saying (in distinctive British accent of course) “I can’t be asked.”

    I hope you had a great time at the wedding and didn’t freeze to death! I was in an October wedding last year and the ladies were shivering both during the ceremony and afterwards for pictures in our strapless gowns, hoping against hope that the groomsmen would offer us their jackets. Needless to say, our shoulders were chafed by the time we entered cocktail hour.

  2. charlsiekate

    Even a seven o’clock formal wedding, even when everyone is wearing a tux, I believe it is always appropriate and the much safer bet to go with a short dress. A seven o’clock wedding normally has the bridal party in long gowns, but not the guests. Obviously some cocktail dresses are more formal than others, but I would only wear a long gown to a high noon white tie wedding (which, I have to admit, I’ve never been invited to one of those). Fur is also appropriate at white tie. And gloves. I love a chance to wear gloves. This chance never happens. I’m still holding out hope though. Haha.
    Now, the real question I have, you say the wedding was outside? In Pennsylvania in late October? I find this a questionable decision. Brr!!!

  3. Katherine Gordy Levine

    I grew up in Media when it was a small town and the Tyler Ab was one of the places my mother would take us for a ramble. See it has been gentrified, but was happy to have some good memories revisited by your post. My brother’s children all live in and around Media. I fled it to Vermont, the Big Applie and have retired to Colorado. All good places to have been from. Stay strong and enjoy.

  4. Lost in France

    I’m just waiting for the near death experience and mudslide and all the exciting stuff.

    So staying tuned for the next installment

  5. Landlord

    “I’m actually surprised at my own conduct. I’m not usually good in these sorts of situations, but ply me with a glass of wine and the knowledge that it’s my responsibility and mine alone to enjoy myself? Well, I’m unstoppable.”

    YES, YES, YES!!!!!


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