Aug. 21 - In the bloggy briefings of Tuesday and Wednesday, I described my barefootedness at the altar and the bewildering ceremony itself. Today I'd like to move on to bryllupfesten, the wedding reception.

For the past 100 years or so, the most important person at any wedding has been, of course, the photographer. Swaggering into church, temple, or backyard arbor like a pack mule loaded with cameras, tripods, and boxes of lenses, film, and vitiriol, the wedding photographer has somehow become the arbiter of wedding and reception protocols. Your wedding photographer will tell you whom to pose with and where to pose with them. They will tell you when to propose a toast, when to take your first dance, when to cut the cake, toss the bouquet, remove the garter. They will tell you when not to go to the bathroom. They will tell you and you will obey, because they know better. After all, they do this every week whereas you will probably only get married a couple of times yourself.

Wedding photographers keep the reception moving briskly, alienating the guests you would otherwise have to alienate yourself, until they take their final picture, guzzle half a liter of premium liquor, throw a pass at the maid of honor, and stumble out the door.

Ten days later you will receive a set of unflattering photographs of red-eyed people who bear a haunting resemblance to you and yours, celebrating a wedding in a parallel universe full of cross-hatching shadows and perspiring foreheads. This will be accompanied by a four- to five-figure bill.

The DMB and I therefore chose not to have a professional photographer at our wedding. It made us, and some of our family members, a little nervous, because the lack of a photographer raised so many questions: who would get everyone to stand bunched together in uncomfortable clusters? Who would make us hurry through dinner to cut the cake? Who would the guests demonize?

Pragmatism steeled our nerves. Everyone has cameras these days, most of them digital. If we threw a bunch of disposable cameras around for good measure, surely we could ensure that enough pictures were taken to provide us with a lifetime of memories—and we'd save a couple of thousand bucks to boot.

Of course, dispensing with a wedding photographer left us saddled with the responsibility of screwing up our own pictures. We gave it our best shot.

The DMB struck first with a suggestion that, while other guests sipped their champagne on Nikolaj Plads after the ceremony but before the reception, we should gather "just family" together for some lovely pictures down by the canal in front of Højbro Plads. Now, ours was a small wedding by American standards, with just fifty guests. Nine of the ten guests on "my" side were family, and of the remaining forty guests there were probably only about five or six unrelated to the bride by blood, marriage, or (especially) remarriage.

(As an aside I should mention that I'm beginning to suspect that every Dane is somehow related to every other Dane, in a sort of six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon kind of genealogy.)

The DMB's idea being both impractical and confusing, it was deemed a perfect wedding picture strategy and was seized upon enthusiastically by all forty-four guests related to us. We traipsed (and I limped) down two blocks of cobblestone streets to the canal, where the long shadows of the lowering sun ensured no decent picture could possibly taken from any angle. We compelled our familes to stand uncomfortably in unnatural poses, waited a moment to let them work up a sweat, then let the shooting begin.

The results, I assure you, were equal to anything the most sadistic of wedding photographers could have hoped for: squinting eyes, whole faces swallowed in shadow, expressions of discomfort and irritation. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, we no sooner returned to Nikolajkirken for the reception than events took on a life of their own, and we forgot our photographic responsibilities altogether. Over the next nine hours, not a single posed photograph would be taken. And from what we've seen of the results so far, we're paying the expected price for that oversight: the people in our photographs look lovely, and happy, and natural.

It is entirely our own fault. We will have to live with the consequences.

[To be continued.]

Birthdays and Holidays

Today is the birthday of Kenny Rogers (1938), Wilt Chamberlain (1936), Count Basie (1904), Aubrey Beardsley (1872).

It's Princess Margaret's Birthday in the UK.

Happy Thursday!

© 2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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