77: An Interesting Cast of Characters

77: An Interesting Cast of Characters

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

An Interesting Cast of Characters

I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.

~Fritz Perls

When my husband and I decided to get hitched on January 1, 2000, his family was all in Serbia and my parents were living in Kuwait for ten months of the year. Celebrating the millennium in the Cook Islands seemed like a stellar idea because if the world was going to end (or at least come to a halt), what better place to be than a remote tropical island?

I honestly can’t remember how we decided to get married there, but it was the best decision of my life. I’d been a bridesmaid enough times to get the vicarious walking-down-the-aisle-all-eyes-on-me thrill, but also the associated stress of planning a party for more than a hundred people. Combining the honeymoon with the wedding seemed like a much more satisfying alternative, so we decided to do the wedding alone but have a party in the summer when my parents were in town.

I contacted an event planner named Anita who arranged everything for us. We booked an apartment in a small, family-run motel on the edge of the water. The day we arrived, she met us and drove us around the main island (a forty-five-minute journey) to check potential wedding spots. After finding the perfect secluded area of beach, we went to meet our minister. We wanted our ceremony to be fairly non-denominational, and Anita assured us that Danny would be the perfect officiant. After meeting him, we had nothing else to do but enjoy our vacation and see them in two weeks for our wedding.

But we did see Danny again — a couple of times, actually. The first time was for a cultural dinner show at a hotel. The dancers came out, and there was Danny, our minister, acting as emcee of the show. He spotted us right away and gave us a shout-out, which was cute, then had us come up and dance, which was less cute.

The second time we saw Danny was in our room, sitting on our dresser. He was on the cover of our Guide to the Cook Islands, looking like one of the natives from Gilligan’s Island. Apparently, our Danny was a bit of a local celebrity.

On the day of our wedding, we weren’t due on the beach until sunset, so I’d booked an in-room massage to relax and pass the time. Enter Divine in a muumuu. She oiled me up, ran her hands up and down my shoulders for a couple of minutes, then asked if she could have my People magazines. After she left, I had to have a few piña coladas to unwind.

It was time to get married. With my fiancé safely ensconced at the bar, I put on my wedding dress (fifteen dollars at the mall), and did my make-up (lip balm) and hair (four bobby pins). Anita showed up with a massive bouquet, out of which I plucked four gardenias to put in my hair in lieu of a veil.

The sky was getting very overcast, but I didn’t care. My fiancé had made his way to our beach (to this day, I’m not sure how he got there) and was waiting for me to walk with him to our wedding spot. Waiting for us at our sandy altar was Danny. With another man. Wearing a blue Speedo.

Apparently, this man was a friend of Danny’s and lived just behind our section of beach. He was having a barbecue and was checking water conditions before everyone hit the surf. Thankfully, Danny persuaded him to hold off on his beach party for a few minutes, and we were able to start the ceremony.

The photographer acted as best man, and Anita was maid of honor. We said our vows, and then Danny pronounced us husband and wife. In the name of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints. There’s a picture that I’m sure was taken as Danny said this because my husband and I have looks on our faces as if to say, “Umm… are we Mormon now?”

We didn’t have time to ponder that question because it started to rain, a blessing from the gods but not for my dress: it became completely translucent. The true blessing was having a bouquet as big as a gladiator shield to hide my lady parts.

After the paperwork was signed in a bar across the street, we took off on our scooter and toured the island in the rain, honking and waving at everyone we passed. Back at our apartment, my new husband decided to forego the traditional carrying of the bride across the threshold and instead threw us both in the pool.

While drying off, we saw that the rain had stopped, so we ran to the beach in our towels to see the most brilliant sunset ever, then got dressed and had a romantic dinner, where I promptly fell asleep at the table.

Looking back, I can see how my wedding reflects my marriage — full of interesting surprises, overall kookiness, lots of laughs, and utter exhaustion.

~Lori Dyan

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