April 2010

Funny or Die When Good Weddings Go Bad

First-dance frenzy to squirm-inducing toasts—think your nuptials need that over-the-top touch? Think again
by SETH MORRIS / illustration by LOU BEACH

Love is grand, ceremony is important...and some wedding practices should be avoided like a Jehovah’s Witness at the front door. As a former cater-waiter and the perpetually single friend of many couples, I’ve attended more weddings than most. This makes me uniquely qualified to give unsolicited advice.

So as Wedding Season nears, I feel compelled to let you in on some practices that are best avoided. First, please don’t sing your vows. People who sing vows (or anything else at their wedding) are so in love they don’t notice how uncomfortable guests become when they realize singing is about to happen.

The ripple that rolls through the crowd as the first notes of “Leather and Lace” or something from Flower Drum Song kick in? That’s not us bracing for a flood of emotion—it’s our muscles seizing up from embarrassment on your behalf. It’s a visceral reaction, like receiving a wet willie or smelling low tide. We’re there to witness your personal expression of love, but no matter how much we like you guys, when you start singing, all we can think is, Gross.

Speaking of music, I’d like to offer this next tidbit directly to the groom: Don’t get the band back together, bro. Just don’t. It’s great to see you finally settle down. It’s also really cool that you had a band in college. However, the former doesn’t justify a reunion of the latter. Watching your band (what was it again—Avocado Sunday? Open Up and Say Ska?) is like playing minigolf. It’s really fun for the first three minutes, but when you realize there are 17 more holes of this crap, it’s all you can do not to fake a seizure.

If you absolutely must get the Funk Yard Dogz back together, know it’s not cool to yell, “You want one more?!” Uh, we don’t. Besides, it’s never just one more. One more leads to three more, which inevitably leads to that one song the bass player sings.

Dancing with the Stars has been a bad influence. Just-married couples have been duped into believing they must perform a first dance that is really funny, really elaborate—or both. And although YouTube would have us believe other­wise, performing at your own nuptials is not legally mandated. When the numbers are well rehearsed, these are great. But have you ever seen a Cirque du Soleil–esque interpretation of “I like big butts”? How about a Hula Hoop number where the couple look like they’d rather be assembling Ikea furniture?

The first dance used to be the time to grab more shrimp and hit on a bridesmaid. Now it’s an over-the-top spectacle that we “just can’t miss!” Yes we can. I get it—the couple feel they have to put on a show for guests who have spent money on travel, lodging and gifts. Maybe they have a point. If we come away from your wedding without a memorable experience, we’re going to grumble about those $200 salad tongs we got you.

But there are so many things besides a crazy first dance that can make us feel we got our money’s worth. Adorable ring bearer or flower girl? Have a gift card from Crate & Barrel! A grandma or grandpa boogying on the dance floor? Take this set of bamboo place mats and some Egyptian cotton sheets! Seeing a groom or father of the bride cry with joy? I’d mortgage my imaginary house to buy you matching claw-foot tubs! I guess what I’m saying is this: Play to your strengths, people. If more newlyweds would get back to the old hug-and-sway first dance, more of us could get back to eating shrimp and dry humping in the parking lot.

The final piece of advice can be difficult to implement, but it’s important to try: Avoid uncomfortable toasts. A toast, as defined by the Internet-ipedia, is “a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill.” Notice that the words depressing, mean or long appear nowhere in this definition. We don’t need to hear another childhood friend, estranged sibling or creepy cousin turn a wedding toast into a drawn-out rant about themselves. Cousin Donny, why do you think it’s okay to hijack the reception with your stories of lost love and Workers’ Comp?

Couples, want to know how to avoid these jaw-clenching moments? It’s easy: Don’t let these people near a microphone! Tell Linda from junior high there’s a stray cat outside who needs a home—she loves cats! Hint to Cousin Donny that an unattended meth lab or Foghat cover band awaits him behind the rec center.

As bad as those situations are, they don’t come close to the discomfort produced by the rocky-relationship recap toast. Everyone understands that the road to marriage can be filled with twists, turns and stops—but we don’t need them recounted. Usually it’s the bride’s or groom’s dad who raises a glass and utters things like, “I guess he needed to sew his wild oats” or “Then she went to grad school at Brown and did that whole thing.” Really, Dad? Reminding us this couple has broken up and gotten back together multiple times seems like a good idea to you? Just cut to the chase and yell, “I doubt they’ll last, and I resent spending my RV money on this farce!”

And that’s it. Refraining from bad singing, unenthusiastic dance numbers, band reunions and awkward toasts are a small price to pay to ensure the happiest day of your life isn’t the crappiest wedding your guests have ever attended.

Once again, you are welcome.

SETH MORRIS is a member of the Funny or Die team. He appears every Wednesday in Facebook, an improv show at Hollywood’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

Funny or Die tackles nuptials from hell—a video made exclusively for LA