Wedding DeciBELS

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Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

 I have one simple rule for brides-to-be: if you don’t want to be upstaged, don’t put children in your wedding party.

No adorable little cherub stole my spotlight. I hoarded it to myself. My cousin Kristen, however, learned the hard way that children are a distraction for wedding goers, whether because of their cuteness or because of other, more volatile means.

It was the day of Kristen’s wedding. The family was gathered in an idyllic chapel. The wedding party started down the aisle. My sister Fran, one of the bridesmaids, looked radiant in a bridesmaid’s dress that miraculously wasn’t hideous.

My then three-year-old niece Callie preceded the bride. Her march down the aisle only wavered ten or eleven times as she spied various family members and greeted them effusively.

It was when she approached the altar that the trouble started.

She saw her mother on the stage and dashed to her. She wanted to stand beside her mommy for the ceremony. The wedding plans dictated she stand on a lower step. Her mother sent her down two steps and a miniature volcano began to stir.

A sudden rumbling was heard throughout the church. Wedding guests looked around in alarm. Was it a tornado? An earthquake? A deity furious at the mistakes of all mankind?

No. It was worse. It was an enraged three-year-old.

Callie’s shrieks shook the floor and rattled the chandeliers. Her piercing wail drowned out the strains of “Here Comes the Bride.” Her grief at being two steps away from her mother threatened the eardrums of innocent wedding guests.

The bride stepped around her and arrived at the altar. The music stopped, and the minister tried to begin the proceedings. He immediately saw the futility. Not even a loud speaker would make him heard over Callie’s tantrum.

The wedding came to a full halt.

In shock I looked to my sister. We locked eyes.

“Get her,” she mouthed angrily from the stage.

I did not want to get my niece. The entire congregation was transfixed by her meltdown. Getting her meant rising from my pew near the back, going to the front of the church where everyone was looking and coaxing a tiny but vicious goddess of fury out of the church.

Where was my mother? Couldn’t she do it?

My mother wasn’t in the church. She was in the lobby caring for Callie’s infant sister.

It was up to me.

In a futile attempt to keep attention off myself, I darted up the side aisle. There was no hiding from stares though when I crossed to my niece.

“Come on,” I urged her.

Her shrieked reached a new decibel, and to this day I still have trouble hearing out of my left ear.

Seeing no other alternative, I hoisted her under my left arm like a football and sprinted down the center aisle. All eyes were on me as I rushed my errant niece back out the way she’d come. We had to leave the church and cross the parking lot before her cries could no longer be heard by the wedding guests.

If you ask me, I say that Callie took the cliché of crying at a wedding a bit too far.

If you’re planning your wedding, remember this tale of woe and do yourself a favor. Do not put children in your wedding party.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at NoraBlithe.com.