Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Wedding Crasher

I was out into the crosswalk before I noticed. The sidewalk was incredibly full of people going in every direction and Joe and I were rushing to catch the light. When we started across the street we saw the oddest sight, a wedding party, with the bride and groom in the middle, was stretched, kitty corner, across the opposite corner, blocking the cut curb across from me. They were all smiles, thinking that what they were doing was fun and cool. And maybe it was. Others crossing with us stepped a few steps to the side and the stepped up onto the curb - all smiles, several waving. I, however, was in the middle of the street, with seconds to go before the light turned. I needed them to move, break the line, so that I could get to the cut curb.

I met a wall of hostility. The bride looked pissed. The groom looked annoyed. The three people who moved did so grudgingly. It was like I'd ruined their fun prank, which meant I ruined their wedding, which means in two weeks she's having an affair and he's living vicariously through romance novels. When I was up and we more moving again, Joe, who had stepped up on the side, explained to me that there were several photographers on the opposite corner, ready to capture a shot of them all, in a row coming across the street. This intersection is one where every third light they have a "all ways crossing" opportunity for pedestrians. It was this one they were waiting for.

I'm sure, when the story is told, the bride will tell a story of a man in a wheelchair who almost ruined "her special day" ... "the day that is all about her" ... "they day where every girl gets to be a princes, every boy a prince". The degree of selfishness that now comes with the months of planning and the thousands of dollars has moved marriage from a commitment of love, a declaration of intention, to a ostentatious show of consumption and privilege disturbs and depresses me.

To believe that your marriage ceremony means that you can take over an entire corner of a crosswalk, in the centre of Canada's largest city, and expect that everyone will simply comply to what you are doing because no one wants to ruin "your special day" is absurd. I didn't have any intention of ruining anything, I simply wanted to pass by. I would have been up and through if they'd just have moved quickly and easily. As it was they took so long to decide to let me come up that when the light changed, they were no longer in formation and I'm not sure they got the picture they wanted. The bridal party, all in a row, happily skipping across the intersection.

Maybe I'm being mean spirited and churlish but I maintain that marriage isn't about the show, or the picture or about the wacky parties - weddings are about the moment two people state out loud that they intend to live and love together. It's that moment that matters. It's all that matters. All the rest is meaningless. Two people in love, who had just declared that love to the world, wouldn't care if the line had to move a little to let someone up a curb - they wouldn't care because they would know that they had a lifetime laid out in front of them, they could just pull in together, and try and the next light. That's what marriage means, you've got time to get it right.

I've marvelled, over the years, at the irony of those who scream that allowing gay people to marry would destroy "marriage" when heterosexuals seemed to be doing a fine job of making the marriage ceremony about everything BUT the moment of commitment, the moment of declaration. I watched as it became about the dress, became about the show, became about the party afterwards. I watched as more and more and more money was spent in an attempt to "buy" a memory. Marriage, the ceremony at least, mattered less and less and the pageant of selfishness meant more and more.

Really, a guy in a wheelchair wanted access to a public ramp and was treated to a public show of anger and disdain. Great way to start a life together ... great way to demonstrate your love. I wish this couple well, I hope that they got the picture they desperately wanted. But more than that, I hope they one day realize that, even if they didn't get that picture, what they did get was married, and that's what mattered.


Jayne Wales said...

Not only that Dave people have to make even more and more big gestures about asking someone to marry them it's like everything has to be done in public. I remember having breakfast after a fancy show wedding and the bride said he felt miserable because the wedding was over. I said but this is what it was all about? She looked t me as though I was mad.
John, me,Kay and Dave went to a registry office. I was hugely 8 months pregnant, so Oli came too. I had a bright spotty dress on because I thought it did not show I was pregnant. Ha ha I was deluded. I drove in a tiny car and John hiccuped all the way home, I love you! It was lovely.

Anonymous said...

"A picture is worth a thousand words." ~Napoleon Bonaparte

The picture you painted through your words and insight speaks just as many. I wondered, after I read your post- if... in years to come, the Bride will reflect on that photo... and wish she had reacted differently. I assume for the first few months and years, she will be hostile and bitter because her perfect day was interrupted. She will be annoyed as she recalls had to wait for 3 more lights to capture that PERFECT 'rehearsed' moment- the moment she had seen sensationialized in Bridal Magazines and in Photographer's Portfolios.

As the years go by, and the photos begin to fade and brown around the edges- the Bride will reflect on that photo... and wish she had reacted differently... perhaps just a chemicals in a Photolab develop a Photo Memory... she will develop an understanding of how ignorant and self centered she, her Groom and Bridal Party behaved that day. I am sure she will return to that moment when she finds herself in a crosswalk...I hope she sees your face everytime and takes a lesson from that moment. You can always snap another picture, you can never take back how you treat another...

A wedding day represents a future... with many, many moments and hopefully years to look forward to. Marriage isn't a photo album where you only capture the good times - the moments that are photo worthy... Marriage is about loving and supporting each other through the great times and the rotten times and making the best of those moments.

So they had to wait for three more lights...

Jeannette said...

Dave, I think that their situation was one that was at odds with reality, probably deliberately so, and your appearance represented reality, and burst their fantasy bubble. Beyond that, I can't imagine. I know that the "bridezilla" syndrome exists, but as far as I'm concerned, those women might just as well be from another planet. No, another universe.
I have been married twice, and both times what mattered was our commitment, our love, and the supporting love of the people who were there. Nothing else. And anything else -- manufactured drama -- seems to diminish the core meaning.
It's a shame that you got tangled up in their odd web, but at least for you, it was a passing moment. If they are a lucky couple, their marriage will survive the wedding. nonsense.

Deb said...

I am aghast at the wedding circuses you see, not only on TV but in real life. This simple exchange of vows is turned into a side-show, from the professionally staged and filmed "proposal" sky-written in three colours while a troupe of fire-breathing jugglers wearing live crocodile headdresses balances on ten foot poles... well you get the picture.

And having seen *that* on You-Tube the next couple has to do something even more outrageous to make the two-year-run-up to their "special day" more spectacular. Like attempt to co-opt Toronto intersections.

Everybody knows these couples are already living together, fighting like cats, hate each others' guts, and the ink on the marriage certificate won't be dry before she files for divorce, but they still spend $200,000 on that wedding.

The *wedding charade* is the entire point. No one is interested in actually being (or at least staying) married.

There are no TV shows about real people who settle in, raise kids, stick together through the sickness, the lean (and very lean) times, the times when they could happily strangle each other.

We planned to be married in church but when neither set of parents would agree to come to the wedding we opted for a Judge at the Cook County Court House.

We went to get the license on Thursday morning, planning to come back on Saturday with two friends to get married, but the clerk said on Saturday the line-up was blocks long and the Judge was free right then.

So we got married right then, went grocery shopping, and then both went to work for the day. No flowers, no music. A five minute ceremony.

That was 1965 and we're still together. Love doesn't need a big send-off or $200,000 worth of studio props. And you aren't *disappointed* when the wedding reception finally winds down. :D

Anonymous said...



(absolutly nailed it)

Kris S. said...

Amen, Dave. Say Yes to the Dress my a**.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that their attitude wasn't good and not fair to you, which is the sort of thing you have to deal with a lot too. Generally if people were taking photos I would wait to pass in front of them but in this situation it wasn't an option for you and of course there is no obligation in any case and they were unrealistic in their expectations. I think for me, getting photos for such important occasions is something I value because I know that they will capture for me that memory and I keep them for years to come and they are very precious.

I also agree that the focus should be on being married rather than the wedding, however there I don't see any reason why having a big celebration for a wedding means that the sentiment is not the same for the couple, why not if that's what you would like and there is an element of tradition and family/community involved. Unfortunately I think the more shallow aspect of weddings is influenced by a certain culture that has developed, and people growing up with these ideas (especially females) and making comparisons with others.

And yes, there is a lot of divorce now, but I think people can be quite harsh and judgemental towards people who get divorced, as I'm sure for most they intend to stay together and don't make the decision lightly, and indeed find it a very upsetting and difficult thing to do. I think it is just because they are struggling in their relationship and don't know how to resolve it and be happy staying married, and perhaps previously a lot of people feeling this way would stay married and unhappy to avoid the stigma, which I'm not sure is an ideal situation either.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with you in regards to the "show" that weddings have become (and feel that if folks spent as much effort in planning their marriage as they do their wedding - perhaps they would last longer), I do feel you were a bit "mean spirited churlish". Would it have killed you to wait just a bit? Or to ask if you could quickly whip across? To be a part of the joy of the day (no matter how fleeting you may think their love/joy may be)? Could you not take a moment to look around and see that you came into a situation and you adapt? Could you not pass through without judgement? This goes beyond a situation of "rights" - you indeed had the right to cross the road in a manner of safety and comfort - but if the photographers were set up - and obviously if everyone was smiling, perhaps ready for the shot, could you just smile and enjoy the moment, share a joy. No, it wasn't your joy, your day, about you - but could you not apply all the principles that you like others to apply in this situation? Obviously Joe saw it. What does that say? It appears you demonstrated your own brand of prejudice. The thoughts that perhaps the bride and groom may reflect and all that...I doubt it. I think they will only remember someone who had to do what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. I think they call that self-centered - selfish. I hope they got the picture they wanted. You got what you wanted.

The Shorter Bloggess said...

I got married a couple of years ago and I hated the pressure I felt to put on a 'show'.

I made the mistake soon after I got engaged of buying a bridal magazine. I was nearly sick when I saw that they insisted that the minimum budget was £20,000 which was way more then we had or would have dreamed of spending.

The pressure to put on a 'show' is really strong. The subtle or not so subtle message the whole wedding industry gives you is that you are going to be judged and if your wedding is not/original/I resisted to some extent and passed over much of the expense and traditions that are associated with a wedding and I'm glad I did.

I got chatting to other brides online and while many were cool, the sense of entitlement of some was hilarious. Some people think the world should revolve around them because it is there special day. I even saw some women moaning because a friend or relative had dared to get engaged or announce a pregnancy before their wedding and were stealing their thunder.

Also less and less, people view themselves not as hosts of their wedding with guests, but as rulers with attendants. Some people expect guests to jump through hopes and do not consider their comfort.

Don't get me started on people pitching a fit because friends and relatives won't spend their hard earned cash to attend 'destination' weddings.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon above who thought I was mean spirited ... I had headed into the cross walk without seeing them there. This was done at about 2:30 in the afternoon at one of the busiest intersections in the city. If I'd waited I would have been sitting in the street, I felt I had not option. I did ask them to move, nicely, so I could get by. They didn't want to move and it was THEIR hesitation that made the problem. If they'd just let me go in the first place I'd have been quickly through. I don't think any non disabled person would be expected to stand in the middle of a street to allow a photo to be taken. When I was referring to being mean spirited, it wasn't about crossing the street, so you caught me by surprise by suggesting I should have stayed in the middle of a busy street to allow for a photo to be taken. By the by, the reason Joe saw it and I didn't was because he was ABLE to get up the curb and he turned around to wait for me struggling to get off the street. I didn't see anything but the blocked access in front of me and car bumpers beside me.

Tara said...

If there was a correlation between the amount spent on the wedding and the longevity or quality of the marriage, then I could understand the outlandishness of today's wedding business, but clearly there is not. Everyone is so busy focusing on the "big day" that preparing for the actual marriage is almost an afterthought, if it's a thought at all.


Purpletta said...

Dear Anon at 16:39......
I am sorry that I imagine I will be thought churlish as well, but your comment really upset me. I have two concerns about your notes here. First it is absolutely lovely that people would be able to gather together for the wonderful occasion of matrimony and have fun pictures taken to help memorialize the occasion ...but to think that this beautiful occasion should cause others to be subjected to to a situation in which they can't access a public place OR worse in this case that a person would be Stuck In The Street?! There is no place in which that should be seen as acceptable in our society. No place in which a person should be seen as somehow selfish for the Need (not wish, not preference) to access a sidewalk, to get out of a street. I don't use a mobility device but have had a couple of occasions on which I was traveling in a busy city with a friend who uses a wheelchair and pushing her in her chair through an intersection, only to find that for some reason the opposite side of the intersection was not something we could access, whether because of lack of a curb cut or broken pavement or something blocking the corner. For me these have been moments of sheer panic. For you see if someone wouldn't be courteous enough to step aside to allow someone up a curb, how could one imagine a driver of a car would hold up traffic for another moment to allow us to get to safety? In any case I disagree as heartily as one can with your contention that a person looking to get to a safe place, in particular a public safe place, is selfish.
Secondly I am concerned - surprised and concerned - that one could express such a degree of disrespect to Dave, or anyone else in a similar situation. I am sorry that you are feeling so angry, whether about this situation or maybe one similar to it. But from what we know of Dave here on this blog, from his trainings, from his writings, from his publications and his life's work, I cannot see for a moment someone who would be considered selfish. From what we read in this story, I hear the need to get out of an intersection onto a curb echoing louder to the hope for our society that people setting forth into a new life together, a life of love and respect, can hold all they meet in the same standard of respect...

Anonymous said...

(I'm a different anonymous, by the way.)

I think it's insightful that Dave is making the connections he is - to disability and the meaning of weddings and prejudice and all. At the same time, I have to wonder if the angry looks were simply expressing frustration with a photograph not working as planned. It's frustrating to be interrupted when you're all lined up for a posed photo whether or not it's for a wedding and no matter what the reason of the interruption.

Mary said...

I'd like to thank Anonymous 16:25, because until I got to that comment, I was feeling pretty attacked.

While I think holding up a city centre crossing for a photo-op is taking it too far, there's a lot of judgement in these comments about couples who make choices about their weddings that are perfectly legitimate choices that don't harm anyone.

My husband set up his proposal to be as special a moment as he could create, and he photographed it (tripod and remote shutter), and then we spent a few thousand pounds on our wedding day. Despite this ostentation - Deb - we're still together, and happily so, each supporting the other through good times and bad just like we promised, but hey, thanks for your sneering!

It's true there's a lot of overblown nonsense at the *extreme* expensive end - five-figure dresses, twice-life-size bride and groom ice sculptures, the concept that if a person doesn't spend hundreds of pounds to attend your destination wedding then they don't love you, whatever. But honestly, that nonsense was easy to ignore.

What wasn't so easy to ignore is the *highly* aggressive criticism in the other direction. All those people who think that because *they* chose to get married at the registry office wearing casual clothing and then go to the pub, it gives them a right to freely insult anyone who chooses to spend a bit (or a lot) more and make a day of it.

To summarise: negatively impacting on others is not okay. This applies whether you're doing it by holding up traffic OR by attempting to publicly shame and ridicule those who have never hurt you...

Anonymous said...

If I am reading the blog right, the bridal part was kitty corner, which means stretched across the road on a angle. What danger was Dave in if they were blocking the traffic? Would it have been such a hardship to sit and wait 2 minutes for the photo to be taken and then proceed. He was not in traffic - as it was blocked. I feel he was just being pissy. Hey, we all have our moments. I agree that perhaps some personal issues leaked into Dave's actions. His right, and our to agree or not. Someone commented that they wait for people to take photos before going by. Most people do. It is a moment captured in time whether in front of a fountain, building, flowers or a wedding. Most folks stop, let the people take the photo, then pass. It is a polite a civil thing to do.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Mary, you make an excellent point. Ultimately I don't care what people do on their wedding days, I don't care how much they spend or the way they choose to celebrate. I think some of my attitude comes from spending most of my 44 years of living with Joe knowing that we weren't even allowed to demonstrate our committment to the world in any way. Watching weddings become more and more about the 'show' and not the 'committment' ... or so it seemed to me ... while yelling that our love would destroy their right to 'party' just turned me off the whole thing. My blog was meant to be about the idea that someone's wedding day meant that they had a right to presume to take over public access and deny someone the right to cross the road. Even here, on a disability blog, some think that their right to have a wedding photo meant that I should sit in the street and expect oncoming traffic to happily let me safely sit there. I agree with what you say, have whatever day you want, but maintain that it goes to far when you expect others to endanger themselves for a photo op.

Dave Hingsburger said...

No, Anon above, they weren't stretched across the road, they were stetched across the two corners of the sidewalk, blocking not traffic but pedestrians ... who mostly stepped around them. I explain again, I couldn't have stepped around them, I would have had to sit in traffic on the road.

Tamara said...

People who are trying to get the perfect picture in the middle of a busy city should expect that it's going to take multiple traffic lights to get the perfect shot. Of course, they could have anticipated some difficulty and had a group of friends who were not in the wedding party to stand on the opposite corner and ask folks if they would mind waiting so they could get the shot. I'm sure, had you been asked before you got into the street, you would have obliged.

If it wasn't a sense of entitlement of a Bridezilla, it was certainly poor planning on the part of the photographer.

Shan said...

So interesting to read the debate in these comments! I do think the mania for a 'good' picture is a weird phenomenon of our times. Capturing an interesting, Pinterest-worthy of an experience is more important than actually having an experience. People do get hostile if you don't comply, don't share the assumption that getting an interesting or unusual photo is worth anything - ANYTHING - any annoyance, inconvenience, any amount of time spent waiting, moving stuff, posing, leaving your wedding guests for five hours so you can drive to a different city where there's an old movie theatre with cool tiles that match your bouquet.

Anonymous said...

kitty corner - definition

When at an intersection, something that is 'kitty corner' to another will be on the opposite quadrant diagonally from the other. If you had, for example, the emipre state building on the top left, the sears tower on the top right, the freedom tower on the bottom left, and the transamerica tower on the bottom right-- the empire state building would be 'kitty corner' to the transamerica tower.

"When we started across the street we saw the oddest sight, a wedding party, with the bride and groom in the middle, was stretched, kitty corner, across the opposite corner, blocking the cut curb across from me."

Janet said...

This is silly. Dave said kitty corner across the opposite corner, he didn't say across the intersection. I read that to be at an angle across the corner. I think Dave was perfectly clear and he's been way more patient than I would be.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Janet, not to worry, I don't get 'pissy' as often as anon might think. I admit, from reading the comments, that I could have written the description of how the event happened more clearly. I guess it was clear in my head and I didn't ensure that it was clear in print. I'll have to be more careful than that. My last word on this will be that I do stop and let people take pictures often, and even take pictures for strangers who stop and ask for a shot - I don't mind. I also stop to pet friendly dogs and chat with others on the bus. I just don't want to stop on a busy street with traffic looming - I'm funny that way.