I’m a sucker for weddings. I love everything about them: the flowers, the music, the dress. Tears flow freely even before the bride takes her first step down the aisle. Then there are the vows. What can be more beautiful than declaring in front of God and man your love and loyalty to another human being? Sigh… I love love.

Then the reception begins.

The more weddings I attend, the more I feel sorry for the bride and groom. From the moment they’re announced as husband and wife, there is only one thing on everyone’s mind: food. Oh, and the drinks. Never, ever forget the drinks. The guests certainly won’t.

Of course everyone goes to a wedding because they want to witness the happy couple’s blessed union. Though once the ceremony ends, the entire vibe of this joyous event shifts. What was just moments earlier a celebration of commitment turns into a desperate race to find out where the bar’s at. Is it open yet? Or more to the point, is it an open bar? Those two magic words will make even the most bitter of guests forget about their delayed cross-country flight, missing luggage or overpriced hotel room. An open bar really does makes everything better. Just open that bar fast. Super fast. Wedding guests do not like to wait for their reward.

Because that’s what the reception really is: a reward for being the dutiful friend or family member who put in a lot of time or money for the ceremony. Perhaps no one will ever admit to it, but you know I’m right. Though if my friends are any indication – love you guys! – you best not have a full open bar. If you do, you will be paying back that bill years after your student loan balance has reached zero.

The food, though… The food is something else entirely. Wedding guests don’t take too kindly when shortchanged on their meal whether that’s in terms of selection or quantity. Usually I know right away if the reception will live up to my expectations depending on the presence or absence of appetizers. Given that typical hour lull between the ceremony and reception, I’ve come to expect a hors d’oeuvres table in the same way that most everyone else expects a sunrise every morning. There’d better be one.

Some people are satisfied with just a bar before dinner is served. Not me. Regardless of what time of day the wedding is scheduled, you can bet that I’ve devoted at least the last five hours to this thing – getting ready, commuting, waiting for the ceremony to begin, the event itself (which can be upwards of an hour) and now waiting for dinner. Though to be honest, it’s in everyone’s best interest that I eat sooner than later. My meal schedule hasn’t changed much since infancy; if I don’t eat every couple of hours, I will wail. Loudly.

But appetizers will hold me over only for so long. I can be momentarily distracted by the reception speeches (again the tears), but then it’s back to what’s on my plate. Most weddings have your standard salad and bread offerings. Usually I’ve inhaled both before the entire room has even been served. That’s when the true test begins… What is the entrée? Is there a choice? Sometimes no. I once attended a reception where everyone – everyone – was served the same chicken and vegetables. When I woefully told my server that I don’t eat chicken, I received very little sympathy in return. His suggestion? “Eat around it.” I compensated by consuming four pieces of wedding cake later that evening.

While seeing a loved one tie the knot always puts me in a good mood, I am outright giddy when told that dinner is buffet style. Hells yeah! So not only do I get to choose what I want to eat, but also I get to take as much of it as I want? I wish you many, many years of wedded bliss.

In any other scenario, I hate buffets. With much respect to my father who loves a deal, I cannot bring myself to eat at Old Country Buffet. Whenever I walk into that place, all I can think about is that granny across the hall who probably coughed her dirty germs onto the pudding cup I’ll be eating in twenty minutes. It’s not conducive to good digestion.

But wedding buffets are awesome. Just recently I attended a reception with endless servings of shrimp, sushi and traditional Indian fare. I was in buffet heaven and quite literally went into pig mode. From what I’ve heard, as long as you keep putting food in front of them, pigs will keep eating. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I can see how it might be. I couldn’t stop. Well past the point of mild discomfort, I still had three sushi rolls on my plate. How could I let them go to waste? It was only the gentle scolding of a dear friend who convinced me I would live to eat sushi another day – though maybe not as good and definitely not as free – that I finally threw in the napkin.

It pains me to say that I also skipped the cake that night. As previously mentioned, I am a big fan of cake. Any cake. Actually any sweet at all; I don’t discriminate. No cake? Only cookies? Fine by me. No cookies? Only brownies? Bring it. As long as there’s something to cleanse my palate, I’m good. Yet by the time dessert is served, most guests are either dozing into food coma or dancing in a drunken haze and don’t care much about the sweet stuff. However, I did make sure to try the ice cream. Yes, this wedding had cake and ice cream. If the reception was any indication of what’s to come, consider this my official RSVP to the 50th anniversary party. I’m already hungry.

Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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