I played drums and sang in a band for years in
nightclubs saloons. However, due in no small part to competition from D.J.s, who were cheaper for the saloon owner to hire, the demand for live Friday and Saturday night music shrunk.
So, we cleaned up, bought a bunch of tuxedos and switched to playing weddings, and we played a shitload of them (parties too). We were not the typical “wedding band”. Rather we were a polished saloon act that “did” weddings, and, as I said, we played a lot of them, most of which are a blur to me now – except for one.
That would be The Wedding from Hell. Here’s the story.
Background on the Catering Hall
The Wedding from Hell took place in a venue where I would have least expected it. The Catering Hall was first-class. It was owned and operated by two brothers, who were anal retentive about cleanliness, orderliness, and running a tight ship. The kitchen was as clean as a surgical suite, drinking of alcoholic beverages was “on the house” for the band, as was dinner. In exchange, you followed the Owners’ Rules. For example, no alcoholic beverages on stages, no smoking on stage (always bad form anyway), and don’t even think about leaning a piece of equipment against the wall.
Their penchant for maintaining order was evidenced by the omnipresence of a uniformed off-duty police officer during all events.
The point being that this was not a Bucket of Blood type joint.
The Bridal Party is Late.
It is not all that unusual for the Bridal Party to be a few minutes late, almost always because of delays resulting from having photographs taken offsite. However, on this evening, the Bridal Party was already almost an hour late, and they had not stopped for pictures. We knew this because the photographer was at the hall. He explained that they did not plan to go anywhere to take photos, as he would meet the Bridal Party at the hall immediately following the ceremony to shoot pictures at the hall.
At the request of the Bride’s family, we began at the appointed time, with the understanding that we would take a short break when the Bridal Party arrived so that I would be able to speak with the members of the Bridal Party about the logistics surrounding their entry into the hall.
The Bridal Party Finally Arrives.
I was advised that the Bridal Party had finally arrived and that they were in a downstairs room. I headed downstairs to do my thing, which included explaining how the next ten minutes or so was to go and making absolutely sure that I would pronounce everyone’s name exactly right (a very big deal). Under the best of circumstances, it can be a bit difficult to get everyone’s undivided attention, because it is, after all, a party.
This time it was damned near impossible to get anyone’s attention, because between the church and the hall, they had stopped at a bar and done some power drinking. They were all shitfaced. To make matters worse, I walked into the room just as they were all snorting prodigious amounts of coke (the powdery kind).
It took me a while, but I finally got everyone’s names and formed them up to enter the room, which they managed to do in a raucous booze and coke-driven manner. The Bride and Groom even got through their first dance, although I could see that the Bride was beginning to fade.
The party was wild from the get-go. At one point a waitress carrying a huge tray of salads was knocked on her ass by revelers, causing a salad explosion. The Owner in charge for that evening was not at all happy.
The dinner was finally served, and we were playing appropriate music. The keyboard guy was to my left (the other three band members were in front of us), and we were on a stage that was elevated approximately two and a half feet. There were two tables set up on the floor to the keyboard player’s left.
The keyboard guy looked in my direction and said, “Holy shit! Did you see that? I responded, “See what?” He answered, “The broad in the blue dress at the first table just blew her fucking nose in the tablecloth!” Incredulous, I looked at the woman, and she did it again, followed by the usual nasal wipage. Gross.
The wedding was getting weirder by the moment.
A Dollar a Dance.
The Bride’s sister (who despite the booze and coke was ambulatory) explained that she wanted us to play a slow tune so that the men in the room, for a dollar, could each take a turn dancing with the Bride. This must have been some kind family tradition.
I said to the sister, “We can do that, but I’m not sure that your sister (the Bride) is going to be very interested in participating.” I just couldn’t muster up the nerve to say, “Are your crazy? Your sister is absolutely crocked and can hardly stand up.” She said that she would “have a word” with her sister, the Bride.
The “word” turned into a loud exchange of words, which resulted in the Bride having a world-class crying jag. Nevertheless, the Bride agreed to do the Dollar a Dance thing (while still sobbing), but fell flat on her ass during the first partner switch. The woman was legless. The crying jag returned with a vengeance.
The Bride’s “friends” took her crying ass downstairs to try to sober her up. Their efforts consisted of holding the Bride’s head under a faucet. The Bride was pretty much out of the picture for the balance of the night.
I believe that it was about 10:00 p.m. when we learned that several trucks had pulled up to the Catering Hall and delivered forty pizzas! Pizzas!! Forty of them! They came from a local pizza joint. I thought the Owner would shit a pickle at the prospect of a hundred-fifty raucous drunks (some heavily coked up) slobbering pizza all over his carpets.
A bad scene.
Forty farookin’ pizzas! I still can’t get over it.
Dancing on the Tables.
You had to know that it would get down to this. A half dozen or so first-class Vulgarians hopped up on the tables and started dancing and, in the process, knocked stuff all over the Owner’s carpets. At this point, the Owner interceded with the cop and actually blew a loud whistle. He explained that, if the table dancing didn’t stop immediately, the reception was over.
Here Comes the Bride.
We managed to finish the night, and as we were packing up (just about everyone had left), I saw the Bride walking in our direction. Her hair was dripping wet, and she was wearing a pair of brown Nike sneakers with her wedding gown. With one hand, she was eating a downward-drooping slice of cold pizza, and she had a lit cigarette in the other hand. She had a pack of Marlboros stuck between her tits.
She walked up to me and said, ”You guys were fuckin’ great.”
I was speechless.
We loaded the truck and headed for home, when, after a few minutes, I remembered that I had left my tux in the hall. We swung back so that I could pick it up. I entered the darkened and now-empty hall.
The Owner was standing on his head in the middle of the dance floor. I quietly picked up my tux and vacated the premises.