by B.J. Stolbov
On a sunny dry day, about an hour before the wedding, it begins to rain; the skies open up, dumping torrents of tropical rain, and I say to the family of the bride, “I’m sorry about the rain.”
“It’s a blessing!” they reply.
An hour later, it’s again sunny and dry, and outside the church on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, the bride is waiting, dressed in her full wedding gown, inside an air-conditioned van.
“It’s a blessing!”
The groom is waiting outside the church, in the increasing heat; he is spotlessly clean and his hair neatly combed.
The bakla (Filipino effeminate homosexual) hairdresser and cosmetologist has made up the bride ― not as a beauty pageant contestant or some disco queen, but tastefully and stylishly; she is beautiful.
The groom, known as an unconventional dresser, is conservatively dressed, except for his secret fluorescent green and orange polka-dot boxer shorts.
The parents of the groom, who don’t really like their son, and who disapprove of the bride, have decided not to argue for today.
The mother of the bride, who disapproves of the groom, and the groom, who dislikes his future mother-in-law, have decided not to speak to each other today, or, perhaps, ever.
The father of the bride has been approved for a loan to pay for all this.
The Priest and the Rabbi have discussed who is to say what and when, and how many of the prayers will be in Hebrew and how many times the Priest will say “Jesus.”
The illegitimate son of the wedding couple, who is about to become legitimate and is the main reason for this wedding, is sleeping disinterestedly on the lap of the bride’s unmarried aunt.
The daughter from the bride’s previous relationship and the daughter from the groom’s previous relationship, who don’t like each other, are trying to be civil to each other for today.
All the little children assigned to carry the Bible, the candles, and the rose petals are present and behaving.
The photographer, the videographer, and the lighting technician are all here and ready.
The caterers, the servers, the food, the band, the sound technician, and the DJ are all next door in the church’s gymnasium, ready and waiting.
The groomsmen are all cleanly dressed, mostly shaved and combed, and almost sober.
The bridesmaids are all dressed in similar knee-length ugly salmon-pink gowns and their breasts aren’t sleazily hanging out.
The best man, the groom’s younger brother, a bit hung over and always forgetful, who today has forgotten his tie, his belt, and his socks, has remembered the wedding rings.
The maid of honor, the bride’s older sister, who is sentimental and depressed at these kinds of affairs, has brought enough handkerchiefs for both her and the weepy bride.
There are more people in the wedding party than at the wedding.
The younger sister of the bride is here with her accountant husband instead of her tattooed biker boyfriend.
The three nieces of the bride, who always have something nasty and mean to say about everyone, are whispering, pointing with their lips, and giggling to themselves, leaving no one unscathed, but no one is paying any attention to them.
The bride’s cousin’s screaming child is being breastfed into blissful silence.
The groom’s crazy talkative aunt, who always says something inappropriate and loud at these kinds of family affairs, is quiet ― her medications must be working.
The groom’s uncle is hung over, but still moderately sober, more sober than usual, not smelling too much of alcohol, but smelling too much of cologne.
The shy, crippled niece of the groom has arrived with a nice-looking, young man.
The father of the groom holds his wife’s hand for the first time in many years and she sits contentedly beside him.
The groom’s grandmother, probably at her last family affair, sits in her wheelchair, with her hearing aid turned all the way up, and still she can barely hear anything; instead, she thinks back to her own wedding day more than sixty years ago, and smiles to herself from far away.
The bride is wearing a silver necklace from her late great-grandmother, the only family heirloom.
The bride had her period last week, on time.
The heel of the bride’s shoe breaks when she gets out of the van, and her future sister-in-law, who hates these kinds of family affairs and who surprisingly came, and wears the same size and luckily the same color, donates her shoes to the bride.
When the ceremony starts, the bride does not have to check her trailing veil and the groom does not have to check his pants zipper.
Two white swallows fly into the church, perch high on a rafter, and watch the wedding ceremony.
Neither the Priest nor the Rabbi dares to ask if anyone objects to the marriage.
The bride and groom, standing beside each other, holding hands, sure and calm and truly in love, look into each other’s eyes, and, when asked, say, “I will.”
The bride and groom, who have written out their own vows and memorized them, recite them by heart.
When the Priest and the Rabbi, in unison, pronounce the couple as husband and wife, everyone stands, applauds, and sincerely wishes the newlyweds well.
To all of those who have waited a long time to find someone to love and to be loved by someone . . .
“It’s a blessing!”
A wedding is a great excuse for getting the whole family together.
“It’s a blessing!”
And then, after the wedding, after the reception, after more eating and drinking late into the night, the next day, in typical Filipino fashion, the whole family joins the bride and groom at a resort for the honeymoon.
B.J. Stolbov, who has attended a lot of weddings, including his own, lives and works in the Philippines, and travels and explores whenever and wherever. He is a writer, poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, travel writer, technical writer/editor, and an improving photographer. B.J. served in the U.S. Peace Corps, and taught English and writing in high schools and universities in Northern Luzon in the Philippines. He teaches English and writing, and is available for writing and teaching positions. Please feel free to contact him at BJStolbov@gmail.com. Photography by Sirpat Photography.