Wedding II - 13th Letter

the Hyperion Chronicles
“Something Old, Something Red, Something Borrowed, Something Dead”

#116 Weddings II: The Search for the 13th Letter

Hi-Ho, Readers. We’re back to talk more about weddings. I was quite floored at the volume of response I’ve already received. Many wrote to tell me of how they proposed or were proposed to. One girl even wrote to tell me how she wanted me to propose to her! (I guess I wrote better than I thought) Today we’re going to focus on the preparations that go into making a successful wedding happen, or what I like to call “Going crazy for the same cost as a new BMW.”

Now, admittedly, I’m not the most unbiased person on this. I think the whole engagement ring is unnecessary, so you know I’m not going to be in favor of spending tens of thousands of dollars on the wedding. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, I hold in my hands an actual graph on wedding prices from the front page of USA Today. You can’t argue with science!

Seriously, according to USA Today and Modern Bride magazine, the AVERAGE cost of weddings in America ranges from $13,000 in the Southwest to over $31,000 up in New England. You might ask; what on earth are they spending that money on, a heroin-laced cake? You’re not far off. Take a look at a list of just some of the expenses for the modern wedding:

Announcements (this says you’re getting married and would like a gift, but don’t want the person at the wedding)

Invitations (to actually attend) these come with RSVP cards, two envelopes, and tissue paper no one can tell me what for

Programs (in case the audience gets confused and thinks they’re at a play)

Thank you notes (and yes, to answer my maternal relatives; I do know what these are)

Engagement Ring (not actually a part of the wedding, but still expensive)

Flowers (you just cannot fathom what these cost)

Professional Photographer and Video Guy (because when you pay thirty grand, dammit, you want proof the day happened)


Rehearsal Dinner

Site of Wedding


Cake (the fashion now is to have 2 of them, one for the groom)

Wedding Dress (don’t get me started)

Maid of Honor Dresses (also known as the ugliest things in creation)

Tuxedos for Groom and Groomsmen

Wedding Rings (does not come with matching studded dog collar)

Preacher (my dad assures me that most don’t get much)

Soundman and/or equipment

Piano and Organ players


Gifts for Attendees, Ushers/Guests/Caterers/anyone else you can think of

Flying in out of town guests


That is just a sampling. The costs are all over the map. Some receptions can cost $3,000; some thrice that. (Then again, some take place at Arby’s, so it all averages out) The flowers can be more than the reception. And on and on and on ad infinitum.

Now, you may ask, what’s the big deal? It’s their day. If the bride wants these things, who am I to complain? Well, for one, having been in and survived my friend Koz’s wedding last year, I’ll complain until I go hoarse, thank you very much. On another level, though, there is a real danger here.

Anytime any of us builds something up bigger-than-life, we’re bound to be disappointed, like our high school prom, times a billion. (Or for you guys, Star Wars Episode I). To put it another way, my wise grandfather says “People spend too much time on the wedding and not enough on the marriage.” I think the bride—and groom, for that matter—can get caught up in the hoopla, excitement, and yes, unbelievable stress of planning and pulling off a wedding, and that doesn’t necessarily help in the first few months. Again, my grandfather, when I told him how much weddings were costing today: “You can spend ten dollars on a wedding or a million. It doesn’t make you any more married.” Wise man, my grandfather.

The good part is that the bride and groom get presents. This involves registering somewhere. What you do is go to a store and fill out all the paperwork, and then pick out everything you want (some places have these cool scanners). Then when people buy you gifts they can look at the registry list and see what items have already been bought, so you don’t get 50 toasters. Koz and Teela registered at Rich’s and Target, I think, which is fine. That way they could get all the stuff they needed. But I knew that Koz’s heart wasn’t in it, so I lobbied to get him to register where he wanted: Best Buy, Victoria’s Secret, and Taco Bell. (Which reminds me: I never got a thank you note for the chicken quesadilla I got you)

I don’t want you to get the idea I’m against weddings (other than mine). I want the bride to be happy. And even if I didn’t, I’d be hard-pressed to stop her. And let’s face it: this day has nothing to do with making Hyperion-or any other guy, for that matter—happy. It’s all about the women.

Notice I don’t blanketly say bride. That’s because in some cases, there are other women to please. I’ve heard horror stories from some of you who’ve told me about mothers of the bride who were determined to have the weddings they never got vicariously through their daughter. And you thought fathers on the sidelines of basketball games were bad….

In Koz’s case, it was his mother (I’ll call her Ma’Oz,). Now, you have to understand, Ma’Oz is the most generous woman I’ve ever met. She got me the computer I’m typing this on, after my old one got stolen. She also worked a second job in order to predominantly pay for Koz’s wedding. She is very kind. She also wants things the way she wants them. This made for a particularly interesting tug of war between Ma’Oz and Koz’s fiancée, Teela. I was fairly sure those last few months that Koz would turn gay as Ma’Oz and Teela fought over everything. My understanding is, though, that this is par for the course, especially with strong-willed women.

But there was another benefit to come from Ma’Oz and her insistence that everything be perfect. She and Koz went several months ahead of time to scout for a Honeymoon spot, and get this: they asked me to go with them. Now, much as I don’t like weddings, I couldn’t in good conscience let Koz and Ma’Oz go off and fend for themselves in Maui: I knew they’d need me. So, reluctantly, I went along.

Hawaii was a trip. (Literally!) The sights and sounds reminded me of Kenya and my youth, and the women were…not ugly. This wasn’t all beer and skittles, though, as most of our time was spent looking at approximately 958 different hotels in and around the Wailea area: all in the search of the perfect place for Koz and Teela to spend their first week of wedded bliss.

Ma’Oz started taking shampoos out of the rooms and off the cleaning carts, and I yelled at her until I realized this was a great way to get gifts for those left back at home; instead of do not disturb cards on the door they had shell necklaces. Neat, huh? (And might I add if you’re wearing one of those necklaces right now, I bought yours in an expensive store)

There is too much to tell about Maui here (maybe its own column one day), but I did want to mention a few things. For one, the movies lie. I was so hoping to get leid when I got off the plane (a lei around my neck, you perverts), but this didn’t happen. I guess you have to fly first class. For another, don’t trust Hawaiians for directions. They delight in giving mainlanders bad advice. In fact, they don’t like white people very much at all (this was back when I was white). The word in Hawaiian for white man literally means “no breath,” because the first white man they saw looked dead to them. They say Aloha for hello and goodbye, which is pretty lazy to me. They also say Mahalo for everything. I never got a good translation for that word, but I think it has something to do with stupid tourists.

It was a beautiful country, and I did enjoy our time there. Besides finding the perfect hotel, I had two quests: one to eat poi, which sadly, never happened. The other was to find the 13 letters of the Hawaiian alphabet, something I was taught back in 2nd Grade. If you spend any time in Hawaii, you’ll quickly see 12 letters: A, E, I, O, U, H, L, M, N, P, W, and especially K. You could cripple this island pretty quickly by taking away their letter K. But for the life of me, I could not find the 13th letter. I even started asking beautiful hotel desk clerks, to get the answer. (Not for my benefit, you understand, but for my Readers) Lilianna, Kekona, and Lorelei did their best, but it was Meilani, at the Grand Hyatt Wailea, who actually wrote them all down for me and explained the ins and outs of the Hawaiian language. Ah, Meilani…but like I said: that’s another column.

Meilani finally explained to me the secret of the 13th letter. Unfortunately, she also told me “What happens in Maui stays in Maui,” and that I couldn’t tell anyone. So, if you want to know what the 13th letter is, you’ll have to go to Maui yourself.

Be sure and mention my name; it’s worth 10% off. And keep your hands off Meilani.

That’s all for now. Join me for Part III, where I tell the sad sordid story of what it’s like to be a giant of a best man in a tuxedo sized for Yoda and answer the question: How much can one man sweat?

Aloha, Mahalo, or Beast out,

April 25, 2003

Thanks to Ma’Oz for the computer and trip to Maui
Thanks to Koz for getting married so I could write this column and for editing help
Thanks to Meilani for…but that’s another column

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