Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My late, lamented, drive-thru wedding

Fifty dollars. That's all a wedding license costs in California. Not only that, for another fifty the County will perform the service on the grounds of its handsome old administration building on San Diego bay. Throw in another ten bucks for a commemorative digital picture and you have every sensitive man's dream: The $110 wedding. California, being California, you can almost do it as a drive-through.

Even the paperwork is ridiculously simple. For example, you're asked if you've been married within the last ninety days. You say no, that's enough proof. And if you want Uncle Mort to perform the service, even though he has no qualifications other than having money you hope to inherit, that's OK too for another $50. If you need a witness, the county will throw in a witness.

But, then, what if one of you is Mexican and has an uncountable number of cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandmothers and grandfathers, who are all expecting a party/fiesta? Can you leave them out and just have bride, groom, and a witness? Would they be offended or wonder how many months she is "along"? What if one of the two of you, who shall go nameless, never really had a proper wedding and would like to be surrounded by her family?

So that's when I had my first really bad idea. Why not invite them all, the entire extended family, to the wedding? To do so would have absolutely no cost. Big wedding, $110. My Scotch/Jewish soul twitched with delight. So out went the word via Latina Express (aka, cellphone)—come to my wedding!

After that, my perfect, cheap-ass plan started to go terribly, terribly wrong. First, there was the requirement for a "new, gray suit." $425. The discussion went something like this:

You need to buy a new gray suit.
Why? I already have a gray suit in the closet somewhere. I don't need a new suit.
You need to buy a new gray suit.
Then, a professional photographer must be hired (I still haven't found one: the silly buggers want $1500 minimum to cover a wedding). Printed invitations for distant or important members of the family. Transportation.

But the hammer really dropped when it became clear to me that, after the word went out, there had to be a reception where I was expected to feed everyone. I could not invite all those people to the wedding without feeding them. Isn't done! Nor was there any way to feed just part of them: if they were invited to the wedding, they would be fed. Period. So I said, why not my favorite San Diego restaurant, Ristaurante Baci? The waiters wear tuxedos and speak Spanish/English/Italian. Let's do it right. I'm damned if I'm going to have a reception at a hotel or the Hometown Buffet (although, in my temptation, they are as cheap as manure on a warm summer's day)!

Damned. That's the operative word to describe me — damned. Every forty guests at Baci will end up costing around $1,800. How many are actually going to come? This is unclear, especially when you use the Latina Invitation Service to spread the word. That cat violently refuses to go back into its bag. I have the shredded forearms to prove it. Then, there's the mariachis that I would actually like to have, but I have no idea what they might cost. No one is asking me for them, they're my idea. Plus there will have to be flowers, and what about a stupid wedding cake? So my $110 wedding that seemed such a good, thrifty idea at the time is a distant memory while I tear my hair out selling mutual funds as the market dives. You'll hear me muttering to myself, "Yo preferiría vivir en pecado" or "¿Es demasiado tarde para fugarse?" (My poor Spanish translates, roughly, to "I would prefer to live in sin" and "Is it too late to elope?")

A Much Better Wedding Estimate


  1. Oh no, you are not getting off that cheap! Just wait until the actual day and the last minute cost overruns. What about hosting the wedding rehearsal? $$$$ big $$$$. All have to eat and, yes, drink on the host, you.

    We will toast you from afar as you get toasted. All in jest. Enjoy your day in the sun, or dusk or night, or all three. Our best to you.


  2. Lon, I feel your pain. My daughter is getting married next year, and we have absolutely NO money to spend on a wedding (living on disability income is the pits). The guest list is big, costs are staggering. It's much simpler and cheaper to elope!

  3. Elope, Lon! Don't feed all the in-laws.

  4. Oh Oh, Lon, our only daughter just graduated high school and won a trip to The Weitzmann Institute in Israel to study science for the month of July. It cost us 1000.00 for hiking equipment etc, and the phone bills just came in!! Graduation party was 1500.00 on a budget. We just finished shopping for her dorm! She is sad because she will attend a state university in Detroit and not U of M, as she won 2 scholarships which they will only give her one credit for. It will be four years at the end of the year Ralph started trial for the "Rev/Dex trial", The dex is driving me around the bend at times, I hope he will make retirement next year.Sooooo our advice to you is buy lottery tickets for the guests and hope someone wins big. For you have won big already, like us, to be still be here to have found love and have friends and whom ever to party with. How lucky you are. With our blessings, congratulations. P.S. Our daughter plays violin for weddings and is symphony trained, and she loves San Diego. We have friends in Fallbrook, so I am checking the flights now....just kidding

  5. I laughed out loud so hard at the image of claw marks on your arms... yes, weddings - however they start out - take on a life of their own, like amoebas splitting at the slightest provocation. How lovely to be in this moment with you... wish I lived closer cause I've done wedding photography before and I'd gladly step into that old shoe again... which reminds me... "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" - you still have work to do!!! Blessings, Sandy

  6. I think it's all wonderful, just wonderful!! but then I am, an incurable romantic. I can imagine it all so clearly as I sit now at my desk looking out at the green pastures of our tiny English Village. Please Lon take a peep at my little poem " The Wedding Of Miriam And Hubert " on my web-blog - such a rather 'stiff' formal wedding group, and I know you will have so much more fun and laughter! for that would not be difficult looking at the photo! Still I do know that our Miriam and Hubert lasted forever.... and I know you will too xxx Congratulation to you both.

  7. Well... you kniw what they say about second weddings being the "triumph of hope over experience." Clearly you are not only hopeful but inherently generous! Not bad karma. Have a great party!!

    Love and best wishes from Frances in UK (also a 2nd timer since 15 years now - best thing I ever did).

  8. LOL, Im taking the plunge myself on Halloween this year. We are doing the whole halloween wedding theme. Should be a good time.

  9. Congratulations Lon!! I loved your account, but why not go the new 'modern' way of doing birthdays, weddings and similar parties -- namely, you are all invited as long as you pay for your own meal. If you want you can say, in lieu of gifts, everyone invited is asked to pay for their own meal!! There are a number of ways to phrase it, but the basis is: Each one pays for themselves and joins in the celebrations!! Then you can invite as many as the restaurant will hold!! Hope you all have a magic time, Cath

  10. So, Lon, we're waiting to hear about the wedding... Guess you must be still off on your honeymoon.



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