The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 16, 2013

MICHELE M. BENDER | Wedding wackiness

Michele Mikesic Bender

— February brings bridal fairs. Bargain-hunting grooms prowl Valentine ring sales, while brides-to-be lose all touch with reality.

Swept beneath an avalanche of colors, menus, cakes, reception halls, limos and, of course, gowns, normal maidens morph into Bridezillas … obsessed, stressed, possessed and probably a few more S words.

Many brides haven’t noticed that our economy has tanked.

Don’t believe me? Tune in to The Learning Channel (57) on Thursday or Friday evenings and watch a program called “Say YES to the Dress.”

The Learning Channel sounds dignified, informative and edifying. It shocks viewers to discover their programming includes “Toddlers in Tiaras,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “Amish Mafia” and “Long Island Medium.” That certainly expands my horizons.

I can’t pinpoint when women went wedding-wacko, but it’s been going on for at least

15 years. I blame Princess Diana, although she probably needed all that pageantry to distract her from marrying a mama’s boy whose ears look like back doors left open on a taxicab.

I made my formal wedding gown. It cost $37.50. Ace’s charged $500 for the reception (100 people).

My bridesmaids, Sharon and Cincinnati Cathy, purchased their dresses at Jeanine’s, a little wedding boutique on the second floor above the Singer Sewing Center on Main Street.

The “Say Yes” show stars an elfin creature named Randy who operates a posh Beverly Hills Bridal Boutique. The women seem normal until they reveal their dress budgets … $2,500, $6,000, $12,000 and up.

They usually bring a gaggle of friends and relatives, which almost guarantees dissention.

The most extravagant gal bought an $18,500 gown. Her final tab rose to $22,900 when she added a $4,000 veil and $1,400 train.

My first house cost $23,500!

Another bride bought two gowns, one for the ceremony and a racier one for the reception.

We dial back the extravagance here in Pennsylvania.

Johnstown receptions begin with veggie trays, meat and cheese cube platters and dozens of homemade cookies baked by aunts and grandmas.

Wedding feasts feature yummy local specialties (usually riggies, piggies and diggies). And a $199 David’s Bridal frock transforms any church or fire hall.

I recall two unforgettable weddings, one where the groom vanished. The money dance ended, yet the exhausted band started the 38th chorus of “Da da dadada DA da …” Guests were poaching  centerpieces, cookies and cake.

The bride wept, seated in a folding chair.

Suddenly, four huge guys burst in, carrying the motionless groom.

They opened a side door and slid the carcass in the back of an SUV.

A  DJ spoiled another infamous reception. Bikers gathered at a rural fire hall to celebrate some Harley nuptials. The DJ brought his 12-year-old daughter to “help.”

He arrived hammered. The guests were tolerant until he began staggering, bumping into stuff and pawing women.

His daughter bravely kept the music playing. Finally, he crashed into a table, breaking some dishes. The girl ran to his aid, and he angrily blamed her, smacking her and sending her flying.

Child abuse lights bikers up. Behavior like that rankles everybody, but bikers spark off like M-80s.

The guests who weren’t arrested continued the party at a tavern down the road.

And, yeah, we took some cookies, cake, a bag of chips and a centerpiece.

I mean, after all, we did give them a “Mr. Coffee.”

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