Jarren and I are back in Connecticut, after our three-day, whirlwind wedding weekend in Manhattan celebrating the union of Ashok Chandra and Stephanie Miller. It was exhausting, in the best possible way, mixing landmarks like the Waldorf Astoria and Tavern on the Green. There were enough venue changes, cocktail parties, and formal attire to think it was a festival. And, in a way, it was. But what it also made me realize is the wedding phenomenon that is, “the nuptial cliques.” Is it just me, or do weddings create these clusters of friend cliques from various segments of the couple’s life? Usually, they are designated by the various seat and table assignments during the reception. What’s always kinda fascinating and somewhat awkward is the fact that each clique kinda takes ownership of the bride or groom, as if thinking, “They don’t know him/her like I know him/her.”
Take my pal Ashok’s wedding this weekend. There were the childhood Rio Grande Valley friends, the University of Texas friends, and the Fordham law school friends. As usual, crossover exists between some of the groups. But, for the most part, the table assignments at a reception could be labeled as such: Table #13: Friends of the Groom When He Learned to Drive, Table #17: Friends Who Joined the Groom on that Roadtrip to Cancun One Spring Break, Table #18: Friends In the Groom’s Weekly Poker Game. And, each segment of the groom/bride’s life of friendships, swears up and down that “I know the real him/her.” When my childhood friend Nate Irwin was married last year, it was obvious to all of us, that his fraternity pals had a special bond with him that those of us who knew him in Brownsville, TX, did not. And, I’m not arguing one group of friends is better or closer than the other. It’s just that seldom do you have the kind of wake-up call that are provided at a wedding. In one, short burst of catering and a chicken dance, hundreds soon establish that they are merely one footnote is someone’s long legacy of friendship.
Of course, the various groups are uniting to celebrate a turning point where the bride and groom enter yet another phase of life… and friends. It’s almost as if these various nuptial cliques are lobbying for a future of friendship with bpth the bride and groom, as they bond together in matrimony. At any wedding, most guests come to the realization they are not the only friends of the couple… and now the decision of whether you will be allowed to remain a close friend of the groom is only half his decision. The wedding is as much an audition for the groom’s friends to say to the bride,”Vote for me, when you two decide which friends to keep as you buy a house, have kids, and buy season tickets to those football games.” And, if a wedding guest is so inclined, it works the other way too. It becomes a chance to scope out the future spouse and decide, “Do I wanna become friends with my old pal and his/her new wife/husband?”
In the case of Ashok and Stephanie, it was an easy decision. I love boh of them, and she’s a great match for my old college buddy. Hopefully, though, amongst the dozens of old pals of his that were in attendance this weekend… I will be among the few who nail the audition.