My big story of the summer is one I wish didn’t happen, but it’s too late to change now, so let’s use it for something good like learning how to be better in the future – look at me trying to be healthy. Earlier in August I did a wedding for a couple I can confidently say is headed to divorce (is it wrong that writing that made me smile?), so while my part of the story is over, they’re about to have it a whole lot worse (I’m pretty sure it’s wrong my smile just got bigger writing that). The truth is bad things often happen to bad people because of their bad behavior, which is a better fit than bad things happening to good people who had good behavior. I would love to hear that something clicked for this couple and they are less damaging to those around them, but that would take nothing short of a miracle because the wife is a contender for one of the worst people I’ve ever met – congratulations to her. As a psychotherapist, I meet some interesting characters, so that’s a pretty special title to be given; the groom is a lucky man. That being said, he deserves her because he will throw anyone else under the bus to reduce the conflict he faces with her. I have cowardly tendencies, but I’ll just take it; I’d rather suffer than cause others to get hurt, you know, like a decent person should, but not this guy – he’s a dirt-bag. You don’t hurt others to spare yourself.
Because several years ago I did the wedding for a semi-evil woman, I am very careful to be clear about my wedding style: “If you want traditional, you do not want me. If you want a personal ceremony that’s meant to make people laugh and have fun, I’m a great choice.” I also point out: “Over our two sessions together, I will ask a bunch of questions like how you met and what you like to do, and anything you say can be quoted in the ceremony, so if there is something you don’t want said, please let me know.” I think that’s pretty clear – don’t use me if you’re a prude. This couple was adamant they wanted something fun, and the groom continued to reiterate this right up until the ceremony started. I have no recollection of what the first session was like, but the second was rough. The groom was this bubbly guy who said his favourite thing was to make everyone at work enjoy their day more while she kept giving him death eyes. As a therapist, I would’ve said something, but I just told myself that was their thing… nope; she was a witch. While writing the ceremony, I felt uneasy, but I figured it was because I was a bit rusty at writing ceremonies… nope. I should’ve trusted my gut: “Witch alert! Witch alert!”
The day of the wedding there was a torrential down pour, and I heard a rumor the bride was furious that she couldn’t have her outdoor ceremony – strange. When you plan an outdoor wedding, you know it’s a risk, so it shouldn’t be that big deal if it rains, especially because you should be so excited to be getting married things like the weather are side notes. I brushed off the rumor… bad choice; burying your head in the sand leads you to getting your butt kicked.
I had only talked to the couple through video calls, so our first meeting in person should be a big, happy greeting… but not for this bride. Her first words were an attack. The next were a threaten not to use anything personal in the ceremony – um, you’re saying this now? Right before the ceremony was probably not the time to tell me this. (Can you say stupid?) The way the bride talked to me was so bad, the photographer came up after and said she’d never seen a grownup be that mean to another grownup. I didn’t say this, but I’ve experienced worse – not to brag. I have a gift for being attacked; I really don’t like this gift, especially when I have a fear of conflict.
After that terrible greeting, I found the groom outside vaping and his expression looked like he was on death row – he kind of was. When I asked if he was okay, he replied, “The last couple days have been awful. The last 18 months have been so bad I didn’t think we’d be getting married. I’ve been drinking way more than I should to cope with everything… I really need to stop.” Did you hear warning bells going off? I did. But what could I do? I felt trapped, and figured it wasn’t my place to tell him to run the day of the wedding (especially when his bride was so scary). Instead, I simply reminded him I was a therapist and encouraged him to call me later. He said he would… but that’s not happening. People never actually follow through when they say they’ll call, but even if he did, I want nothing to do with him now.
Thinking about this encounter, I wonder how different the ceremony would’ve been if it hadn’t been delayed a year with covid and the time wasn’t filled in with relationship hell. Of course, if you’re marrying satan, there’s a good chance you’re getting burned.
Before going to the front to start the ceremony, I said to the DJ, “Ever do a gig where you know it’s going to be terrible?” He looked at me confused, but that confusion would soon be erased. The ceremony started 20 minutes late because there was so much bickering between the bride, the bridesmaids (also evil), and the wedding planner who had been yelled at earlier for the rain – because you know, it was her fault it rained. The groom’s mom kept saying, “There’s too many cooks in the kitchen,” and she was bang on. This bride was an evil micromanaging queen and the bridesmaids couldn’t shut up. I felt bad for the planner, but not anymore though; she also sucked as a person. When I finally got to go to the front, I greeted the audience, got them laughing, and they were really into it, which made me think things were back on track… nope. After the procession, I did my typical greeting with a silly joke I sometimes use about how the groom has two middle names because he’s that much man. He thanked his parents for making him so manly, and everyone laughed… accept the bride and bridesmaids whose evilness started to show. The bride gave such an evil look, the few people who saw it went, “Oh!” After that point, I couldn’t see the bride’s face because she had moved closer to the groom, but after another standard joke that got big laughs from the audience and a “Oh!” from the couple people who saw the bride’s face, I knew I was in trouble. I started cutting everything I could on the fly. Here’s the funny thing, the one line I kept was I quoted the couple saying they wanted the ceremony to be as fun as possible to celebrate everyone they loved who was there… guess she was a liar. After consistently getting big laughs from the audience who were really into it, the maid of honor yelled, “Enough with the jokes already. Get to the point!” That’s right. In the middle of the ceremony, this witch yelled at the pastor to get to the point. The room went dead. My conflict avoidant brain started screaming, “Help!” I skipped to asking the parents if they gave their blessing to the marriage, and they gave an awkward yes. I then asked if anyone in the audience saw why the couple shouldn’t be married, and everyone sat awkward… probably thinking they should say, “Yes!” but too scared of the bride and bridesmaid to say anything. I then read “Love is patient and kind…” which makes me laugh now because of how far the bride and bridesmaid were from this. I then whipped through the basics like vows and kiss while skipping all the good moments other couples have enjoyed because I wanted out of there.
After the ceremony, the two photographers asked for my number to refer me to others because they said I was amazing until the maid of honor ruined it – thank you to them. I then quietly snuck out, but someone who knew me from years before found me in the parking lot to say hi. He was very encouraging, and then said he had no idea why he was invited to the wedding because he didn’t know the couple – at all; he kind of knew the dad, but still not that close. So here’s a wedding ceremony with less than 75 people because of covid restrictions, and the couple was inviting people they don’t even know – that’s not a good sign. Friends are a reflection of who we are. If we don’t have any, there’s a reason. And if we only have nasty, evil bridesmaids, that’s a sign we’re nasty, too. Of course, in retrospect, I’m grateful the maid of evil… I mean “honor” said something because it gave me the permission to cut everything and just get it done before the bride completely lost her mind and ate me like the fire breathing dragon like she was.
Overall, I was really shaken by this event, but the next day I sent a friendly message to the wedding planner asking how the rest of the night went. There was no response. I’m guessing she was trying to separate herself from me, but that’s pretty stupid. Be a professional and give a response. Instead, she proved she is a bad person. Being hurt doesn’t give us a right to be rude.
Now here was the main problem: The couple hadn’t paid me yet. I had their license and wouldn’t mail it until I was paid, so this had a risk of getting ugly. After a week of nothing, I messaged the groom to say I hoped things got better after the ceremony, and then politely asked when he’d get a chance to send the money. A few hours later I was paid minus five dollars, which I guess was the bride’s way to stick it to me, and then I got a scathing message from her about how I’m a terrible person and I should quit being a pastor. She was very thorough in ripping me apart. She ended by claiming she needed to plan on a redo ceremony because I had ruined everything – a redo ceremony? Weird. Now here’s the thing: If someone attacks another person and that person retaliates, that’s a fight. If the other person just takes it like I did, it’s potentially abusive. In my opinion, her message fell in the category of emotional and verbal abuse because of how hateful it was and because I simply took it. I can tell myself it took strength to not retaliate, but I really just wanted the whole thing to disappear, so sat like abuse. At the same time, I was thoroughly disappointed in the groom who never needed to tell his wife I asked about the money. He was the one who found me, hired me, messaged me details for the wedding, and even shared his heart before the ceremony, yet he became a piece of garbage. I was exactly what he said he (and her) wanted and was exactly who I promised to be; they either changed or were incredibly stupid for hiring me – “Let’s hire the opposite of what we want, so we can be angry!”
I wish I could say that I brushed off the bride’s message, but it was scarring. It was incredibly damaging to me largely because it was another abusive experience to go in my collection (I have quite the collection now). Over the years, I’ve worked with some very anxious brides, but they always come alive in front of their loved ones and their anxiety helps them laugh more. This bride was so full of hate she couldn’t even enjoy her own ceremony. And it’s that level of hate that guarantees their future divorce. The groom will either continue drinking too much or avoid coming home for fear of her, which will add to her resentment (and generalized hate for everything) until she ends it. The other option is he’ll find comfort with another woman, and he’ll either leave for this new girl or he’ll get caught and he’ll get even more beaten down. Hate never leads to a happy marriage. Hate only leads to sorrow.
This event will stick with me for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I know making jokes and reminding myself she was evil and they were both stupid for hiring me (and getting married in the first place), I’ll find healing. I also know that by considering what I can learn from this (e.g. some people suck) and look for things I can be thankful about (e.g. I have a crazy story now) will help give the experience a more positive feel and reduce the hurt. What will also help is doing things that I feel confident doing (e.g. writing). Probably the most helpful thing, however, is how I got back up and did two weddings last weekend where the couples were incredibly kind and full of praise. The world is made better when we’re kind and other people are kind to us. Thank you to those two couples for making my life better.
Bonus: Whenever you like someone’s craft, you really need to tell them because that compliment might be the thing that keeps them from quitting.
This week may you consider how to be an encourager and not a drain on someone’s life.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)