I’m always seeing stories on the local news about calamitous problems with weddings. Recently, a popular venue in Brooklyn closed with no warning, just days before there were weddings scheduled. Or bridal shops burn down, their gowns going up in flames, so that dozens of women have to get married wearing only their garters. Or photographers disappear, leaving grieving couples without remembrances of their event…except for the 3,400 pictures people took with their cell phones.
So when my wife Barbara called from the office one day and said, “I just got an interesting call from the aquarium,” I naturally assumed the place had sprung a leak and would be closed for the foreseeable future.
“Not the aquarium, actually,” Barb added. “The caterer.”
She paused then for dramatic effect, or perhaps to sadistically allow time for all the horrible possibilities to flow through my head. You see, once you sign a contract with any wedding-based provider of goods or services, they rarely contact you unless something terrible is afoot or money is adue.
So why was the caterer calling?
Out of business? was my first thought, followed in rapid succession by Indicted for embezzlement? Mass murder by food poisoning? Lost recipe for goat cheese spring rolls?
Finally, Barb filled in the blank. “Lorraine no longer works there.”
As previously reported in this blog, Lorraine was the person who was handling all the arrangements, from telling the baker when to deliver the cake, to telling the band where to set up, to running the rehearsal, to making sure the seals don’t get loose during dinner and flop around on the dance floor. (This last was important, because if there was to be any flopping around on the dance floor, it was going to be me doing it.)
Lorraine’s sudden departure was disconcerting to say the least, particularly since we didn’t know if she left of her own accord or was fired for gross incompetence, like not using matching table linens. Or maybe not actually booking anybody’s event.
The person who called Barbara assured her that everything would be fine, to which Barbara calmly replied “WHAT ABOUT THE TABLES?”
The tables, you see, had been on Barb’s mind lately. So much so, that “WHAT ABOUT THE TABLES?” might have been her response to just about anything, including “It’s raining out.”
With the RSVP deadline just days away, she had prematurely entered the table-arranging phase of wedding planning. With this news, she was concerned that the personnel switchover would somehow affect the jigsaw puzzle she was trying to assemble.
She felt that she needed a floor plan showing where the tables were. She had another deadline for getting the table assignments to the invitation lady in Ooltewah, TN (motto: “Just tell folks you live about 17 miles from Chattanooga”) so she (the invitation lady) could make the place cards.
“I need the table numbers,” Barb told me.
“But why?” I asked foolishly. “It’s not like the actual tables have numbers permanently etched into them.”
I figured Barb could figure out who was sitting with whom and arbitrarily call that table something, like Table 5 or the “Who Are These People Again?” Table. Then you’d just place a card with that title on the table you wanted those people sitting at. I looked forward to putting Table 12 next to Table 7 just to confuse people.
(Incidentally, the floor plan at right is not our floor plan; it’s a generic one I Googled. You can tell it’s not ours because it doesn’t have a semi-circular area marked “seals.” I’ve placed it here solely to break up the text, and you should ignore it completely, although the tables do look very close together and it seems as though the people sitting at the upper righthand table wouldn’t be able to get to the bar on the lower left until after the event was over.)
Where was I?
Right–Casey and Alex’s wedding. So, anyway, last weekend we met with Lorraine’s replacement John, who works with someone named Elizabeth, so we’re getting two people instead of one, which I guess is a good deal, unless it means that Lorraine was so incredibly excellent that it takes two people to replace her, which is not entirely out of the realm of possibility, since John informed us that she was stolen away by a rival venue and even he couldn’t stop talking about how good she was, and now I’m thinking how the hell are we going to pull this off without Lorraine because only she knew about the various family food sensitivities (NO GARLIC! NO NUTS!) and our other special requirement of having two cases of single malt scotch, but, no, Lorraine had left copious notes for John so we were all set, to which Barb calmly replied “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TABLES?”
So John and Elizabeth took us to the room where the dinner would be, hopefully without all the little kids running around screaming because it was, after all, noon on a rainy Saturday. “One table will be here,” John said. Then he did a slide step. “Another here.” A quick turn. “Or maybe there.” He moved a few paces to the right. “And one here.” I realized that John, in showing us where the tables would be, was showing off better dance moves than I’d be displaying during the event.
Also, it turns out that they do kind of like the tables to have some sort of rational numbering system.
So we went home, floorplan in hand, and Barb tackled the tables once again, and moved people around, and changed table sizes, and moved people around some more, and decided who would sit directly in front of the band’s speakers, and which people wouldn’t mind too much getting splashed by enthusiastic seals, and which people wouldn’t let it go to their heads if they were seated at Table 1.
A few days later, she appeared in the doorway of my office to exclaim “I lost 10 people!”
And, really, what could I possibly say to that but, “Huh?”
“I had everyone seated, then I compared the number of people at the tables to the number of people on the RSVP list and I’m off by 10.”
We got it worked out, of course. And then Barb proofread all the place cards and made sure the Table Numbers matched, and fretted about whether we should use formal Williams instead of informal Bills, and what about people with extra long names that wouldn’t fit on one line and so on.
And she and Casey flipped dozens of emails about this back and forth, copying me on everything.
I chose to consider it Spam.
See you soon.