A Slice of Orange


MARIA DOLATKHAH: The Wedding Un-Dress

June 30, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

I breathed a sigh of relief as the pilot announced we were ready for our descent into the Atlanta area. I almost didn’t make it. Just my luck that the most important deposition in my legal career would end up on the same day as my wedding. Opposing counsel droned on and on without regard to my objections. He knew it was my wedding day and still refused to reschedule.

I had raced to the airport after the deposition with a small carry-on suitcase and my wedding dress in a plastic zip-up cover. After waiting in line to go through the metal detectors, they selected me to search and I panicked at the thought of missing my flight. I was landing at three and my wedding was at five.

The lights came on and I stood up to get my dress out of the overhead compartment. As I reached for my dress, a gentleman’s dry cleaned suit on a cheap hanger caught the zipper of my plastic cover. To my horror, my wedding dress tumbled onto the aisle. The owner of the suit apologized and bent down to help me get the dress, when a toddler with a juice box barreled down the aisle, tripped over the gentleman’s foot and splattered my dress with fruit punch. I let out a sound of the most horrific primal nature, and the toddler and I both began crying.

My dress was ruined. A flight attendant tried to use tonic water to get the stain out, but it was no use. In all this commotion over the dress, I was becoming in danger of being late. When I planned the wedding, they were so booked that I not only had to take a Friday but that another wedding was scheduled right after mine. I couldn’t afford to be late.

When I got off the plane, I hurried to the nearest bathroom to check the damage. As I feared, I had no more makeup. The brutal reality in the mirror replaced the $200 illusion so painstakingly applied this morning. With my carry-on in one hand and the stained dress in another, I stood outside the arrival terminal and searched for my brother’s truck. When I saw the old Ford, I realized that he ignored my request to leave his gum smacking spoiled brat of a girlfriend at home. I slid next to her in the cramped cabin.

“What happened to you?” she asked.

“Yeah, you look awful,” my brother said as he almost crashed into the bus in front us.

“Careful!” All I needed now was to get in an accident.

As I explained the sad story, little miss gum smacker giggled and said, “That sucks.” Resisting the urge to stuff the gum down her throat, I asked my brother to step on it. When we finally arrived, my mother was standing on the sidewalk waving her arms frantically.

She gasped when she got a good look at me. “Let’s get you to a dressing room.”

I croaked, “Mom,” and held up the stained dress. I couldn’t even talk. She told me not to panic, that someone must have a white dress and she ran into the chapel. I went back to the dressing room. I could hear mom arguing with the wedding director and the director complaining we were off schedule.

I felt a soft hand on my back. It was my ninety year old grandmother holding a wrapped gift. “This was supposed to be for tonight,” she said and handed me the box with a trembling hand. Inside was a long backless opaque white nightgown. “The dresses you girls wear today look like underwear anyway,” she said. “Try it on.”

I put on the nightgown and fixed my veil. My white satin sandals matched the silk and the gown draped nicely to the floor. My mother walked in rattling off all the people she called looking for a dress. She saw me and stopped. For once she was speechless.

“Not bad,” Grandma said.

Standing at the threshold of the door leading to the chapel, I looked at my guests with tears in their eyes and my fiancé’s adoring gaze. I noticed a tag sticking out from the gown prominently declaring “Victoria’s Secret $49.99.” I ripped off the tag, smoothed the dress over my thighs and took a deep breath. It’s not how I had envisioned going down the aisle, but it was beautiful none the less.

Maria Dolatkhah is a freelance writer, recovering attorney and regular contributor to OCPC Orange County Community Magazine.

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June 29, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

I’m not sure if most marriage ceremonies still say “..for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…” but in the 21-year marriage of Cindy and Chang Lee, the meaning of those words was certainly observed. After bearing two children, Cindy had back trouble that didn’t go away and left her unable to get around on her own. Chang, a physician, made sure that when he couldn’t look after Cindy himself, some good caregiver did.

Then the unthinkable happened. Chang got a brain tumor. He went through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and whatever other treatments could be given him, but after months of trying, everything failed. He was going to die soon.

That’s when he decided how he wanted to leave his family and his life. “I want to repeat our wedding,” he told Cindy, “with all the original bridesmaids and groomsmen and relatives who can attend. I want our two children to see how our marriage started. I want a reminder of how much I love you, and how much you love me. Then I may be able to say goodbye. For now.”

The wishes of those who are dying are like commands to those who love them. Arrangements were hastily made for a marriage ceremony in Maui, the air perfumed by plumeria and the whispering ocean as background music. They would have a luau and dancers and all the natural beauty of the Hawaiian island.

They will be flying over there by the end of June, along with people who care about them and wish them well, both of them in wheelchairs, both still in love, and both preparing to say goodbye.

But perhaps only for now.

Gail Kimberly Francis

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CHRIS DIAMOND: Got Wheaties?

June 28, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

Can I eat Wheaties forever? You know the old cliché that every guy tells another guy. “Why get married? You don’t want to eat Wheaties for the rest of you life do you?” It’s not like there’s Groom’s Magazine to answer these questions. Most of the time the men get overlooked when it comes to the wedding. It’s really considered “her day” anyway.

But I remember our wedding vividly.

For me I had butterflies right when I woke up that morning. It happened to be at 4 AM in the morning and I couldn’t go back to sleep, but we’ll consider that “morning” since it was 7AM East Coast Time. Not much to do at 4 AM except think about Wheaties.
Crazy thoughts start racing through your head like am I too young to get married, had I had enough “experiences”, should I travel the world before I get hitched?? Way too much deep stuff to think about at 4 AM, this, ladies, is why there is ESPN News and infomercials.

The day goes by just like any other day for the most part, you have the best man at your beck and call which is kind of cool because he’s like your slave for a day. They must do that because they realize it’s the last time you’ll be able to boss anyone around and not have a discussion about it. I also found out if you tell the girl at Supercut’s it’s your wedding day you get a free haircut!! Most of the time they are bad by your standards, but hey what do you expect for $15.00 plus tip!!

Now comes the big moment, I’m in the tux, everyone’s staring at me, Mom’s crying and the bride’s maids are in their places. The typical intro chimes in and suddenly the doors are not opening. Sheer panic starts to hit me. I’m going to be one of “those guys”. You know the one that you see in the movies where the cute Maid of Honor gives the groom the note and he sits on the altar steps in a crumbled heap of pathetic goo. Finally they swing open and there she is. All I remember thinking was WOW and then the sudden fear of feeling my eyes starting to blur. The last thing I wanted to do was bawl my eyes out. Now that would be real manly and impress my soon-to-be wife. So I take the deep breath, look at the ceiling, stare at a flower for a second and start to think of baseball stats. Yes, it works for crying just as well as you know what!!

The rest is history, the pictures, the first dance were all great, but what’s even better is waking up every morning next to my beautiful wife and thinking Wheaties are damn good.

Chris Diamond
For more on Chris visit: http://www.husbandsanonymous.blogspot.com/

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SARA BLACK: Going to the Shrine

June 27, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

Despite the fact that they were getting married in the country of her birth and not his, my Japanese best friend blamed her American fiancé for the difficulties of planning her wedding.

“He’s the one who wanted a ceremony.”

Her wedding took place at the Atsuta shrine in Nagoya on May 27th,2006, a traditionally good day to get married. And we saw many other wedding groups pass by throughout the day. Japanese-style weddings always happen in Shinto shrines because Buddhist temples are reserved for death, and they’d rather not combine death and marriage.

We started out by walking in a procession that was supposed to be arranged according to people’s relation to the couple, but ended up a confused blob with people sticking with those they could comfortably chat with along the way. At the head of the confusion was my best friend, being helped by an attendant as she walked over the gravel in her traditional white kimono and headdress.

The Shinto Priest led us in prayers for the couple, at least that’s what I assume he was doing since my Japanese isn’t that good. The bride and groom meanwhile were directed to hold a pair of branches in various different ways until the Priest was satisfied.

The next part of the wedding was sitting in a room and sipping tea as we waited for our turn in the shrine for the main ceremony. At this point we noticed a general assumption by the staff of the shrine that as Caucasians my crew belonged with the groom’s party. I admit to some resentment. But as he only had 3 members of his family there and the bride had at least 10, it did even the sides out a bit.

The actual wedding ceremony involves spending a great amount of time watching the bride and groom drink very small sips of sake. The most interesting part was when some men played very loud, sharp sounding instruments while two women in red and white Shinto dress did an elaborate little dance with the ever-present tree branches.

The poor groom, who does not know Japanese, did a fair job of plowing through a speech in that language about marriage and the home, at which point the bride gets off easy and only has to say something like “I am wife,” and the rest of the party finally gets to drink their own little saucers of sake. Up until that point I had thought the clear liquid they were pouring was water so I was a bit surprised.

The reception is not so different from a western wedding, complete with embarrassing dart games. Except if it had been an American reception, I might have missed out on my boyfriend using the karaoke machine to sing an interesting rendition of “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You.”

But it was at the reception that all the cultural differences finally fell away. The groom’s parents (who were from Michigan and as different from my family and the Japanese) followed up their first ever karaoke song with their first ever taste of raw fish. The groom’s brother connected with the bride’s uncles over copious amounts of whiskey. And I found my mother crying with the bride’s aunt and a friend of the family over the fact that the bride’s mother had passed away a few years ago and could not be here to cry herself.

At the end of it all there too was the part of the wedding where the guests get to fumble awkwardly on the microphone and wish the smirking bride and her polite groom a healthy life together. This wedding benefited from the bride’s very drunk uncle’s (later nicknamed the “drunkles”) monologues that made no sense even for those who understood the language. My very brief “Omedetou Gozaimasu” (“congratulations”) was tame by comparison.

Of course we eventually had to leave the room to allow the next wedding party to use it, and we gathered in the lobby to say our last goodbyes and slowly make our exits. We were all still enjoying talking together so this took some time.

Though the ceremony was beautiful and I enjoyed seeing my best friend wed, I think I still sided with her in the end. Should I ever get married, I’d opt to run off to Vegas.

Sara Black
For the full wedding story you can go to: http://scratchingposts.blogspot.com/2006/05/day-3-my-best-friends-wedding.html

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DEBRA MULLINS: Cross-Country Romance

June 26, 2006 by in category Going to The Chapel tagged as

I am due to get married this September, so I don’t have an actual wedding story yet…but I do have an unusual tale to tell about how my future husband and I actually met.

I actually knew my fiancé for about four years before I actually met him in person. I work in technical support for our company, and employees from all over the country call me when they have a problem with our software. It’s always the same 300 or so employees, so over the years you get to know people.

I “knew” Jay this way, but it wasn’t until we had a particularly hairy problem that resulted in both of us spending nearly two hours on the phone one day that he really registered on my radar. Jay worked in our California office, and I am located in the corporate office in New Jersey. I’d never met him or even seen a picture, but he had always come across as so mature and professional on the phone that I imagine a much older man. I found out during this memorable conversation that he was actually only two years younger than I am!

During the course of this phone call, it came out that he was tall (so am I), that he was part of an a cappella singing group (creative, I thought…good). . .and that he had recently relocated to our Arizona office to be with his fiancée.

Can you hear the thud of my heart as it hit the ground?

Nevertheless, I was taken by this fellow, and I pathetically seized any chance I had to speak to him on the phone, even if the problem we were discussing could be handled with a simple email. He seemed to enjoy our conversations, too. The company was about to release a new product, and Jay told me there was a possibility he might be sent to New Jersey to be trained on this product. Wow, I thought, we’ll finally meet…even though he is taken! (Drat!)

This was a couple months away and not set in stone. Then a funny thing happened. I suddenly could not get a hold of him at his phone number in Arizona. We had a case we were working on, and it was unlike him not to respond. So I dropped him an email, and I got a quick reply. “Moved back to California,” it said. “Big life change. Tell you about it later.”

So I emailed him my phone numbers and told him to call me at home if he wanted to talk about it outside work.

He called. He had broken off with his fiancée and moved back home to California, and yes, he was going to be sent to New Jersey for training! So for the next six weeks we talked on the phone regularly, and the more I spoke to him, the more I liked him. There was just that one last step–the face-to-face meeting–to accomplish before either one of us felt comfortable admitting there might be something more than friendship developing. That meeting did happen the day after he arrived in New Jersey. We had made plans to go to dinner, and I went by his hotel room to pick him up since I had a car, and he was sharing one with other people who had also come out for training from his office.

He opened the door to his room, and I was so nervous, I rushed inside, babbling about needing to charge my cell phone. It took a moment to plug it in, then I turned to face him.

Violins rose in a sweeping melody. Lightning and thunder rolled, even though it was a sunny day in May. I felt as though the rug had been swept out from under me…but that even if I fell, he would catch me.

Soul mates had met.

I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen–heck, I write this stuff for a living! But he felt the same way about me. When he had to return to California after that week he was in New Jersey, we both felt as if a limb had been amputated. We spent the next three or four months flying back and forth to see each other over long weekends, and the rest of the time talking on the phone or chatting via the internet. Whenever I flew to California, we would go to Disneyland, since he lived right in Anaheim.

That autumn, a position opened up in my office that was identical to the one he held in California. By then we had both decided that we couldn’t live without each other. He posted for that job and transferred out to New Jersey in October. The following May, he proposed to me outside the door of the hotel room where he’d stayed that first time. I had no idea this was going to happen. He had gone out to California to visit his mother for Mother’s Day and had come back with an engagement ring in his pocket. He proceeded to carry this ring around for the next week and finally proposed on Friday the 13th on a day when we had had a disagreement. Never let it be said that this man is not a gambler!

Jay has been here in New Jersey for nearly two years now, and our feelings for each other have never wavered or weakened. We are set to get married on September 2, 2006 at Disneyland, the place where we spent so much time during our courtship. So I’m goin’ to the chapel…just not until September!

Debra Mullins
Scandal of the Black Rose, Avon Romantic Treasure, February 2006

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