Lessons learned from a wedding

My youngest son got married last weekend.  The outdoor venue was beautiful, the weather warm but not hot.* The bride looked wonderful, the kind of bride you would see in a bridal magazine (I assume). The groom and his party – two of them my other sons – never looked more handsome. The reception was a tremendous success. The hall looked great, and the speeches were short and funny (mine, by the way, was acclaimed as The Greatest Wedding Speech Anyone Has Ever Heard). Everyone was well fed, feasting on cookies made by the groom’s mother. We all drank and danced (well, I didn’t dance) and had a wonderful time.

During the reception, while the revelry swirled all around me, I had time to contemplate this glorious celebration. And I thought to myself … man, I wish I had gotten into the wedding business.

Statistics say that the average wedding cost in Canada is between $23,000 and $30,000. And those numbers are probably close to the number of hours of preparation that go into a wedding.

I don’t know how much my son’s wedding cost, and I won’t ask. But let’s just say that I am very happy that tradition dictates the bride’s family kicks in most of the costs. 

This is not to say that my wife and I did not contribute in some ways. Our contributions were just less, shall we say, financial.

My wife made hundreds of different cookies for the ‘Cookie Bar’, which were a smash hit. I contributed by approving the finished products. My wife bought a new dress, got her hair done on the wedding day, and had actual professional makeup applied. I got a haircut (which I didn’t really need for another month), bought a new shirt at Marshall’s for $19.95, and agreed, reluctantly, to get my suit dry cleaned. There is only so much one man can do.

My other, less onerous duty, was to help my son with the key ingredient to the success of any wedding – the booze. I didn’t buy it, mind you, just helped him lug it to the car. This was quite a learning experience for me.

We (and by we, I mean my son) stocked up on hundreds of cans of beer and dozens of bottles of wine. Turns out, beer and wine are yesterday’s wedding elixirs, as most of it went unopened. This was a whisky, vodka and even tequila crowd. I was introduced to beverages that I, as a modest beer imbiber, was unfamiliar with. For example, something called Pink Whitney, a mix of vodka and lemonade, was a big hit. Flavoured whiskies were in demand; I have the remnants of one called Fireball, a cinnamon-flavored whisky. (Its actual slogan: “Tastes like heaven. Burns like hell.”) It’s powerful and delicious stuff that clears your sinuses and fogs your brain at the same time. 

So, did I overindulge? No, I did not. I had a couple of beers and a glass of wine over the course of about six hours. I have had enough experience with getting seriously drunk to know that the price you pay the next day is simply not worth it. I was proud of myself for showing such restraint.

Here’s the ironic part. During the hall clean-up the next day, the effects of the excess alcohol consumption were obvious on most of the clean-up crew. And as for me, Mr. Responsibility? I woke up the next day with a terrible headache, exactly the kind of pain I was hoping to avoid by staying sober. It had nothing to do with alcohol; I’m just prone to random headaches. So, I denied myself can after can of beer, vodka shots, Fireballs and general overconsumption to avoid a debilitating next-day headache, which I got anyway. Life just isn’t fair.

But in the end, it was all good. A lovely ceremony, a terrific reception, and only a post-wedding, non-alcohol-related headache. 

Oh, and did I mention The Greatest Wedding Speech Anyone Has Ever Heard?

* Well, it wasn’t hot to me, but I was in the shade. The people in the cheap seats tell me it was very, very hot.

By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.


  1. Hi Maurice,
    At the age of 17 my girlfriend and I walked over to city hall in Hamilton, asked an attendant and a secretary if they would be kind enough to act as witnesses, and withing 15 mins were married by a judge. Who kept asking us if we were sure this is what we wanted and where were our parents (dead). Total wedding cost? Not sure exactly, but a few dollars for the paperwork. We did not have enough between us, so the judge and witnesses very kindly helped out with fee. We left holding hands and laughing. That was 57 years ago. We have been through a lot together, and are more deeply in love now than ever.

  2. Your writing is similar to Jack Knox (Times Colonist, Victoria). I think that’s a huge compliment! I agree with the previous comment – please post the speech!

  3. I don’t think it would work very well in print. A lot of its success was due to my brilliant delivery. And a lot of the jokes would only work if you knew the bride and groom.

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