For much of my life, I have associated weddings with tea ceremonies, Celine Dion, and witnessing my old Chinese uncle getting blasted after a tea ceremony, singing a karaoke version of a Celine Dion song, and puking in the back of a Honda minivan. I was rather young when the aforementioned happened and, until recently, such a memory became as quintessential to weddings as cake, dresses, and my mother’s posse of friends filling up an entire table and eating a whole duck – without the full consent (or invitation) of the bride and groom.
This past weekend, I experienced a wedding from a different perspective: as a close friend, a member of the bridal party, and a witness to event that is difficult to process in words. This is a rare instance in which the language that I depend on for capturing the colors, the vibrancy, and the emotions of such an affair is insufficient – even petty. To describe the haze that was violet dresses, a luminous couple, a formidable Southern California sun, and frequent declarations of beauty, love, and family, is to write in a series of understatements.
I cannot accurately depict the glance between the bride and her mother mere moments before we walked down the aisle – a glance so silently powerful that, even in its brevity, elicited tears from both a fellow bridesmaid and I. I cannot adequately portray the collective awe of the congregation as the bride entered the nave of the church or the delicate, yet assured manner in which the groom took her hand. I cannot and thus I will defer to photographs (which ultimately will defer to my memories). At least I can now replace the image of my uncle yakking Remy Martin and Chinese food onto the seat of a small Japanese vehicle with something far more bearable and more splendid.
And just as my notion of weddings has changed, this weekend has, appropriately enough, reinvigorated my love of writing. Very few people know how tumultuous the relationship is. I actually liken the medium — my passion — to quite a few negative attributes: pretentiousness, self-righteousness, being a space cadet, self-indulgence, non-productivity, James Franco, a vacuum of time and space in which 100 hours of thought is condensed into 20 hours of work, which results in a piece that can read in 10 minutes. Perhaps these are just the worst qualities I see in myself, particularly when I write.
For this wedding, however, I was given the opportunity to contribute through writing. The parameters were simple: take a bunch of words that few people have heard of and write party-related sentences under their respective definitions. Each table at the wedding would be given one word, functioning as a table number. I was given the creative space choose the words and to construct the sentences, so long as I relegated myself to only a few Jesus jokes and Nelly lyrics.
Over the last few weeks, I looked through hundreds of words, piecing together sentences as if they were puzzle pieces – moving commas to add rhythm, turning declarative statements into interrogative sentences, adding quotation marks as I felt necessary. It is a project that I enjoyed very, very much — in part because the writing was, for once, able to add to an event that was greater than writing itself. 13 of the 22 sentences below:
1| Vernicle [vur-ni-kuhl] noun: Cloth with image of Christ’s face impressed upon it.
“Look, I know people may feel a little weird wiping their hands on these, but they are soft and were on sale at Target,” Jess informed Ronnie of the vernicles she purchased for the wedding reception.
2| Wegotism [we-go-tism] noun: Excessive use of the pronoun “we” in speech.
In an unfortunate case of wegotism, Austin’s and Mark’s best man speech took an awkward turn as they concluded, “We love you two, we adore you guys, we support the both of you, and we hope that we’re going to have a great wedding night.”
3 | Koan [ko-an] noun: Nonsensical question given to Buddhist students for contemplation.
Jess and Ronnie decided not to hire the monk for their wedding when he began the interview with the koan, “What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk?”
4 | Parousia [par-ou-si-a] noun: The Second Coming of Christ.
“Look busy!” The wedding guests screamed upon hearing that the paraousia would occur in 15 minutes.
5 | Wasserman [wah-sur-muhn] noun: Man-shaped sea monster.
The media speculated that it was wasserman sighting, but it turned out to be merely Lady Gaga in the frozen fish stick section of Vons.
6 | Callipygous [kal-uh-pahy-guhs] adj: Having beautiful buttocks.
“Yeah, callipygous is not really a first date kind of description,” Ronnie told Jess after she tried to compliment him on their first night out.
7 | Epithalamion [ep-uh-thuh-ley-mee-on] noun: Song or poem composed for weddings
Upon hearing him belt, “Good gracious, ass bodacious,” Jess and Ronnie were appalled that the wedding singer chose Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” as inspiration for their epithalamion.
8 | Prosopography [pros-uh-pog-ruh-fee] noun: The description of a person’s appearance.
“Yeah, I’m not sure ‘Shawty had them apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur.’ is the best prosopography of Jess for this occasion,” Jen suggested to Ronnie while reading a draft of his wedding vows.
9 | Viripotent [vi-rip-o-tent] adj: Fit for a husband; marriageable
“HOW IS THIS SUPPOSED TO TEST MY VIRIPOTENCY.” Ronnie yelled at Jess, as she handed him a map and released him in the forest wearing a bear suit.
10 | Reniform [ren-i-form] adj: Shaped like a kidney
In a terrible bout of misunderstanding, Jess and Ronnie had insisted that their cake be as beautiful as a “giant Renoir painting” — while the baker had heard “giant reniform pastry.”
11 | Sabrage [sey-ber-eyj] verb: The Act of Opening a Bottle with a Sabre.
“You know, those bottles are twist off,” Jess said to Ronnie after his sixth act of sabrage.
12 | Janker [Jan-ker] noun: Long pole on wheels for transporting logs.
“So, we weren’t able to book enough cars to take you all to the reception, but we hope you enjoy these jankers that we made last night,” Jess announced to the wedding guests as they stood outside the church.
13 | Eirenarch [Ei-re-narch] noun: Officer in charge of keeping the public peace
Jess and Ronnie could not believe that the security company’s version of a wedding eirenarch was a man in a Carebear suit who offered free hugs and threw neon glitter at pouting guests.