Notes From a Spectator

Having spent most of my adult life as a professional musician, I’ve played more than my share of weddings.

There’s a purity from the vantage point of the stage—the guests at a wedding might be watching us, but we’re really watching them. Sure, we’re “artists,” but we’re also the hired help, the only difference between us and the servers is we’re dressed cooler.

But in the end, we’re props, just like they are. So our interactions with wedding guests are cursory, and we get to bear witness to mankind at its most celebratory. And when mankind is celebrating, hilarity isn’t far behind. What follows is a list of observations of the celebrating man. We hope you won’t fall into any of these categories. Do what you will with this information. And if you’re looking for a band for your next wedding…

The “I have to speak now” guy: Ninety percent of wedding hilarity comes from the toast. A common thread to many weddings is the man (or woman, but usually a man) who jumps up, unsolicited, and demands the mic so he can bestow his curious gems of wisdom he’s collected over the course of his three failed marriages. This guy’s a cancer and makes everyone feel awkward, so if you can, don’t pass the mic. Queue the band or the DJ to start right as he starts talking, as if he’s accepting a best costume design Oscar award or something. No one cares what the costumer has to say.

The long talker: This is, unfortunately, usually someone who was asked to give a toast. We once played a wedding where the father of the bride got up and “toasted” for an hour and 20 minutes. That’s not an exaggeration. Literally an 80-minute toast. It’s like he was filibustering his own daughter’s wedding (by the way, this cut into our playing time, so he ended up paying overtime to the band and the caterer, fyi. Something to keep in mind).

The unhappy couple: They’re drunks and they hate each other and secretly hate the newlyweds for their happiness. They will get plastered and have a big fight that will end with her crying in the bathroom for 20 minutes while he chats up the cute bartender. Eventually, whoever has the car keys will take off and the one who’s stranded will continually repeat a variation of: “Can you believe (s)he just left me here? I mean, (s)he actually just left me here!” loud enough for everyone to hear.

The bad dancer:
This is a favorite, and is guaranteed to be at any wedding with an open bar. Now, most people are fairly bad dancers, but know enough to keep the movement to a minimum. This guy’s convinced he’s awesome, and will eventually bulldoze the bride’s aging grandmother to the ground, busting a hip and necessitating the first emergency call of the evening.

The alcoholic: Similar to the unhappy couple, except the alcoholic’s a loner. He’ll start off (usually a guy) very charming and will spiral into a booze-fueled haze of bitter resentment at his own solitary existence. He will eventually be physically tossed out of the reception hall by the groomsmen.

Smarmy McSmarmerson:
Again, a man. He’s the creepy guy who’s someone’s cousin—no one’s sure whose—who lingers a little too long in the hug-the-bride embrace. He will disappear at some point during the evening only to surface again when he’s indicted for lewd conduct six months later.

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