I woke up the morning of August 21st 2009, the day my good friends Chad & Mary were to be married. Right off the bat, things were hectic. Tasha had lost her cell phone the night before sometime after the rehearsal dinner and before we took a cab ride home from the Pour House in Collingswood. Tasha and “crazy bitch” Melissa left to go back to Philly where Melissa lived to get ready for the wedding, and I had to make my way over to Chad’s house with the rest of the groomsman to get dressed together in some sort of wedding day ritual. I also had to find a hotel room for the four of us to stay in the city that night. Turns out, I booked a wonderfully priced four star hotel room located in the heart of Center City, just a few blocks from the where the ceremony was going to take place, but across town from where the reception was being held. Thanks to Hotwire, there were absolutely no changes allowed to the reservation and no refunds given. Oh well I thought, I guess we’ll just have to find a way back to the hotel later that night. What I didn’t know was THAT particular ride would end up almost killing me, Tasha, “crazy bitch” Melissa and Parr, but we’ll get to that later.
Parr and I jumped the gun a bit and got dressed at his house before making our way over to Chad’s where we met up with the other seven groomsmen who were wearing shorts and tee shirts when we arrived. Chad was obviously nervous as hell and was waiting for his xanex to kick in, a mood altering pill he got from one of the groomsman Jason Kamieniecki, (Kam-in-NECK-ee) otherwise know to all of us as “P-Nut.” That’s P-Nut at the far right of the picture below, and his xanex would come into play later on in the night at the reception but for now, just remember to associate P-Nut with xanex and you’ll be fine. And now, in order from left to right, I’d like to introduce Chad’s groomsmen… Ronen, Me, Parr, Mike T, Chad, Adam, Chris Rock, Brian, and P-Nut.
We looked pretty damn good if I do say so myself, but there was still so much more that had to happen before we got a chance to take such a great photo. Being a groomsman carries a lot of responsibility. Not as much as the best man, but being that Chad was impartial to the idea of singling out one of his best friends to put that label on, some of the best man duties fell upon the other groomsman who were somewhat responsible and close to him, or in me and Parr’s case, already dressed.
Chad gave us the task to bring the wedding rings over to Mary’s house to give to them to Amy Holt, the Maid of Honor. In classic Christian and Parr fashion, on the ride over we got a pretty funny idea into our heads and decided we just couldn’t hand the rings over that easily. Our plan was to show up kind of somber and sad, and tell Mary that Chad had decided that he couldn’t go through with the wedding after all. Albeit was a pretty bad joke, but one our friends would know to expect from me and Parr, so we went through it anyway. We pulled up to the house, got out of the car and walked up to the door. The door opened before we even got there, and then Parr and I put on our best game face and followed through with our ruse.
“Uhh, Can we talk to Mary?” I said.
“Why, what’s wrong?” Amy asked.
Amy was the Maid of Honor, a good friend of Mary’s and one of the only ones who was dressed at the time. She told us Mary was still getting her gown on and couldn’t come to the door. So we had to deliver the “fake” bad news to Amy.
“So, we just came by to let you know that uh……the thing is…”
Parr stuttered through his improved script, but I could tell he was about to laugh so I jumped in and said with a straight face…
“Chad can’t go through with it.”
Amy’s face went blank, and then she threw up her arms, and exclaimed in a “matter of fact” kind of tone.
“I knew it!”
That was all we needed to hear before we lost it and started cracking up and Parr had to inform Amy and the rest of the bridesmaids that had made their way to the front porch that we were just kidding.
“You assholes.” Amy said with a smile.
“I knew they were just kidding.” another bridesmaid said from the doorway.
With that, we apologized, handed the rings off to Amy, and made our way back to Chad’s house to get our shit together before the limo came to pick us up, but not BEFORE we decided to stop at TGI Friday’s in Marlton for a drink while still wearing our tuxedos. That was classy.
All seven groomsmen and the Groom are riding in a long black stretch limo heading west on Route 70 towards Philadelphia. Chad looks like he’s about to puke. He’s pale and uneasy, and his nerves are not being combated by the dose of xanex from earlier. It’s at this point that Parr decides to tell Chad about our joke from earlier and that seems to ease his mind, but not before we decide to stop at a RadioShack along the way to pick up a cable we could use to plug Chad’s i-pod into the stereo of the limo so he could put on his favorite songs to hear on the way to his wedding. I was a little edgy too for some reason, but unfortunately the limo didn’t contain any beverages other than water to ease our pain meaning it did NOT contain any beer or alcohol, just some fancy glasses and a whiskey decanter that looked like it had something growing in the bottom of it from the last people who rented the car. Regardless, we eventually made our way over the bridge to Philly, rocking out to Refused and Avail and arrived at the church on time.
The ceremony was beautiful, and everyone in the room was enamored at how gorgeous Mary looked walking down the aisle. I got to say, I had known Mary for many years prior to this evening and she was always pretty, but there was something about her that day that just totally took my breath away. Not only could I feel the positive energy in the room, but she was beaming, and I knew this was the beginning of something wonderful for the two of them. I was really happy to be a part of it, and for the second time in my life I stopped to realize how much something like a wedding can really make us all believe in love again, even if some of us have never had the opportunity to find it. I knew their love was real and clearly, Mary and Chad did too. The whole wedding took about forty five minutes between the standing and the sitting and the procession and the reading of the Gospel from the book of John. Catholic weddings have a much needed religious element to them, and growing up in an Italian family, I’ve always thought that added a level of charm and tradition to a wedding. Mary and Chad had opted to write their own vows to each other which I kept hearing him recite to himself in the limo ride over. I like how couples now do this when they get married. It’s a way of making the wedding their own, and it resonated with me, and as I walked arm in arm down the aisle at the end of the ceremony with Dan Levy’s wife, I spotted Tasha in the crowd and gave a her a smile as she took a picture of us.
After the homophobic priest finished with his duties and the ceremony was officially over, we all had to congregate in the back of the church for the next fifteen minutes or so while everyone got organized about making their way over to the reception. I met up with my friend Gary, who I hadn’t seen in a long time and we caught up a bit with our friend Jenna who we had known since high school and was now living in Maryland. Eventually, the groomsmen, plus Mary with a cake on her lap got back into the limo, and we were driven to the Cescaphe Ballroom in Northern Liberties for the reception.
The first thing Parr and I did when we got out of the limo was what anyone would do when you are a member of the wedding party and had just witnessed one of your best friends get married….we headed straight to the bar for a drink. Ironically, as we were ordering our dirty Ketel martinis from the bartender, a server came around with a tray full of pre made drinks. Again, as anyone would do when you are a member of a wedding party who just witnessed one of your best friends get married, we grabbed two pre made martinis off the tray, downed them, then turned around to grab the two other martinis we ordered from the bartender before tipping him nicely. Then, within eight seconds of taking our first sip from our second drink, the wedding planner had to pry us away from the bar and corral us both into the hall to take pictures with the rest of the wedding party who looked shocked and a little jealous that we walked in with full martini glasses in our hands.
“Where did you fuckers get those?” One of the bridesmaids asked.
“From the bar outside.” Parr said with a smile.
We spent the next forty five minutes or so taking pictures with the Groom, taking pictures with the bridesmaids, taking pictures with the other groomsmen, taking pictures with the Bride, and then finally, after about 3000 or so pictures, we were eventually let loose into the reception hall where we had to be announced by name as we strutted through the banquet room onto the dance floor to pose with the Bride and Groom for, you guessed it…more fucking pictures.
By the time we got to our table for dinner, between the drinks and pictures, and the fact that I had no food in my stomach, I was little drunk. However, that didn’t stop me from ordering some more alcohol to celebrate the union of my two good friends with the rest of my table while I put my order in for a medium filet mignon. There was a lot of stuff going on during dinner. People were coming up and saying nice words to the Bride and Groom, the parents were applauding and crying and toasting and everyone in the place was having a great time.
At our table it was me, Tasha, Parr, Melissa, Gary, his girlfriend Desiree, (who Tasha would accidentally refer to as “Destiny” at another wedding three years later,) P-Nut, his girlfriend Efia, Steve, who had no date with him by his own choice, and Jenna and her husband Tim. Ronen, who was sitting at another table was currently in the middle of the dance floor with the microphone making a speech and toasting Chad and Mary. It suddenly hit me at that point that I needed to get up there and say something nice in front of everyone too. I was a little nervous at first, but when Ronen was done, I jumped up out of my seat and grabbed the mic.
I stood in the middle of everyone eating their chicken, steak or fish, took a deep breath, and in a slightly alcoholic state of mind I gave what I thought was one of the most heart felt speeches using the kindest words I have ever spoken to my friends on their special day. What was it exactly that I said you might ask? I have no fucking clue. Seriously. I got back to the table before the applause stopped and I turned to Tasha and I asked…
“What did I just say out there?”
“You don’t remember?” she asked.
I replied as I grabbed my vodka diet coke and took an enormous swig. And the truth is, I really didn’t remember. I knew it was about a minute or less, which is the perfect amount of time for a wedding speech AND an actor’s reel, and I knew I said some nice things about Chad and Mary and some things that made people laugh, and I knew that there is this one picture of me making said speech in which I feel I look pretty genuine. Truth is, a picture tells a thousand words, and what this picture says to me in less than a thousand words is that I love Chad and Mary, and I wish nothing but the best for them.
“Well,” Tasha continued, “You did good, drunkie.”
She smiled, then we toasted our friends and then all of sudden the room got really quiet as Jason, aka “P-Nut” made his way up to the deejay booth to grab the microphone and make his toast to his best friend Chad, and his new bride Mary. Then, something terrible happened.
The next few minutes were probably the most awkward and uncomfortable amount of time that the guests at the wedding all shared that day. P-Nut, who I love and who is definitely a best friend of mine, but also definitely NOT one of the best public speakers I know, was rambling on and on with his curdling speech for what felt like an eternity. It’s funny how I can’t remember much of what I said when I was up there, but I definitely remember P-Nut starting his speech by reminiscing about that one time that HE and Mary had gone out on a date, which coincidentally also happened to be right around the same time in 2002 when Mary started to date Chad….and it just got worse from there, if that was even at all possible.
Clearly at this point, the xanex had taken over P-Nut’s mind, as the drug was currently forcing him to regurgitate one of the most agonizing monologues in the history of weddings, while simultaneously making all 200 guests bare audio and visual witness to the most uncompounded case of verbal diarrhea, EVER. Someone had to stop this kid, NOW!
I glanced around at the horrid looks on people’s faces and did the only thing I knew that could end this moment in time, while concurrently saving all the wedding guests from any more excruciating dribble. I stood up, and in what could have been the the middle of P-Nut’s elongated speech, I put my hands together, and exclaimed…
“Alright! Jason Kamieniecki everyone!”
All 200 guests in the banquet hall ripped up in applause with me. It was like I acted out the scenario of what they all wanted to do, which was put P-Nut and everyone else out of their misery. Come to think of it, perhaps their applause was more for me putting an end to P-Nut’s speech than it was for P-Nut’s speech actually ending? Perhaps they were one in the same? Regardless, P-Nut made his way back to our table and didn’t make eye contact with me for the next hour and a half. I love that kid, but believe me, it HAD to be done. In fact, I would do it again if I had to, and I’m sure Chad and Mary would be just as thankful to me a second time, as they were that night. Now, with the food and speeches out of the way, the music started playing and I grabbed Tasha’s hand and hit the dance floor.
The next hour was an absolute blur. I remember dancing with Tasha for a bit, then dancing by myself in what was later described to as me as a solo New Kid playing the role of a one man sweaty Backstreet Boy, cavorting and picking up change on the dance floor, while Tasha picked up my cuff links, tie tack, and other pieces of my tuxedo that were being flung off of me at a rapid pace. Even though I had opted for the damage waiver when I rented the thing, she still found every accessory of my tux and put them in a safe place for later. I was drunk, happy, and definitely sweating a lot, that’s for sure. There is one picture of me and Tasha someone posted on Facebook back in the day which I immediately untagged myself from because of the fact that I looked like a well dressed puddle of sweat. My face was flushed, and it looked like I had just gotten out of a pool while still wearing my $175 tuxedo shirt, tie, and jacket. I don’t remember the throwing of the bouquet or the garter, and I don’t remember the entire room of desserts that was just a short walk around the corner. Truthfully, my only regrets that night was that I never visited the dessert room, and I regret stepping on Tasha’s foot at some point in the night on the dance floor. Sometimes the latter happens when you’re drunk, unaware of your personal space, and you wear size twelves. Sorry Tash.
I do remember bumping into my old friend Bezanis. I remarked at how thin he was for someone in his mid thirties, and I would later come to find out that Bezanis “may or may not” have had a slight prescription drug problem at the time. That was neither here nor there. What I did know was that he was my only Greek friend back in high school, and before we all went our separate ways, me him and Parr used to hang out a lot. But, if you put me, an Italian with a short temper, and Bezanis, a greek with a short fuse in a room together for a long enough time, we’ll probably end up killing each other. He’s very loud and very boisterous, and due to our naturally competitive nature and cut-on-a-dime type personalities, it was no surprise that at one point back in 1996 we ended up getting into a fight over a game of Mortal Kombat. After I lost for the third time, I told him to “watch his back” and then I didn’t talk to him for a few days after that because basically, I was an idiot and had too much pride.
Regardless, after catching up a bit, and being as how none of us drove to this wedding, Bezanis offered to give us a ride across town to the hotel where the after party was going to take place. Angelo’s date had disappeared that night, which was good for us cause there would be more room in his Beemer since he was transporting me, Tasha, Parr, and Parr’s girlfriend at the time, “crazy bitch” Melissa to the hotel. The car ride that followed was the most tumultuous twenty minutes of the whole weekend. It poured rain, he hit a curb, almost hit a car in front of us, drove up on the sidewalk by accident of course, and yelled the entire time. It was definitely crazy, but still funny in the end mainly because of the sole factor that we did not die. Tasha, who was riding in the backseat of the car and who luckily had my cell phone with her, ended up shooting about a minute of this nightmare car ride after all of the bad stuff had happened, but before the arguing and poking fun had yet to happen. You can see the video here.
As you could tell in the video, I was pretty drunk, but what you couldn’t tell from the video was that I was also extremely thankful to be alive. When we arrived at the hotel, Mary sat there in the lobby with the ghost cake from earlier and this is when she told me about how her and Tasha both had picked up all of the pieces of my tuxedo while I was sweating and dancing an hour or so earlier.
“Thank you two so much.” I slurred.
“Hey Hayden, watch me ruin these tuxedo pants.” I said to one of the bridesmaids.
“No Christian, what are you doing?” Tasha exclaimed.
“Relax, I got the damage waiver.” I replied.
And with that statement, I decided now would the perfect time to dip my finger into the cake, and then proceed to wipe said finger which was now covered in butter cream icing onto my $175 tuxedo pants, just because I could. (Take that, Men’s Warehouse.) In my defense, I was pretty drunk, and I didn’t really care about the pants now that the wedding was over, plus I feel like the night was coming to an end. Eventually, and without the help of Bezanis, we made our way back to OUR hotel and passed out for the night.
I woke up at 6 in the morning in a pool of sweat. The sheets on the bed were soaked with a subtle mix of perspiration, vodka, and diet coke. Tasha literally thought I wet the bed. I thought I pissed myself, but then I realized that it was just the remnants of the night before being flushed out of my system naturally. I decided to walk around Philly for an hour before everyone else eventually got up and we checked out of the hotel. It was raining, it was cold, and I was hungry. We stopped at a Chik-Fil-A back in Jersey before dropping off Parr and his crazy bitch, then we took it easy for the rest of the night before we had to catch our flight back to L.A. the next morning.
At the airport the next day, Tasha and I had a couple beers and waited for our flight to board. We talked about all the events that had happened, and reveled in the fact that this was probably one of the best weddings we had ever been to. We also talked about the state of our relationship, and how neither one of us really knew where we stood with each other. I was still happy to be able to introduce her to my mom and my sister, and I was elated that my friends accepted her and really took her in as one of our own. I was grateful to her for coming out to the East coast and taking care of me when I was wasted and couldn’t fully take care of myself, and I was happy for my friends Chad and Mary as they embark on a new chapter of their life together, and I knew that it wouldn’t be the last time we were all together for a wedding.
As for me and Tasha, we had been with each other for a couple of years, but the last six months had been extremely difficult to endure. Where we stood after this trip, we didn’t even know. We did know, however that less than two months away we were invited to the wedding of Shaw and Heather, two good friends of mine who I had worked with at the Grill on Hollywood back in Los Angeles, and of course, Tasha was my date. Just then an announcement came over the loudspeaker at Philadelphia International airport.
“Now boarding United flight 643, nonstop service to Los Angeles.”
Tasha and I grabbed our bags, and headed back to the west coast.
Next Wedding: Wednesday May 6th, 2015
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The top: The Bridesmaids, The Groom, The Bride
The middle: Mary, The Guys ( Me, Adam, Ronen, Gary, Parr, Bezanis, P-Nut (kneeling) Me & Tasha
The bottom: Parr & me, Desiree “Destiny” & Gary, Mary and the Ghost cake
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.