The Non-Wedding Reception

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The reception is the best part about a wedding, isn't it? Unless you're the bride or groom, of course. They're busy being serious. The rest of us in attendance are getting serious about the party after the ceremony. Food + drinks + dancing = FUN!

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a wedding reception. A beautiful affair at the top of one of the tallest buildings in town, with a panoramic view of the city. The room was fully decorated, flowers, bartenders and wait staff; even the chairs were dressed for the occasion. And of course, the traditional cakes: vanilla for the bride; chocolate for the groom. Honestly, I don't know why we even bother with vanilla when we all really want chocolate, but that's another story.

slice of chocolate cake over vanilla

Yet this was an odd wedding reception. Why? Because there was no wedding.

Apparently the groom backed out a few weeks in advance “ enough time to warn the bride, yet not enough time to recoup the money for the reception. The bride and her family decided to make lemonade out of the giant lemon they were holding, giving the reception to two non-profits for their use. Talk about class.

I was invited to the soiree by friends who were using this good fortune to launch their new non-profit. The huge party space had been divided into two, with one non-profit on each side of the room. A small dance floor was the only separation. Sort of like we did when we were kids on a road trip when we drew a line down the center of the backseat, with each of us taking a side.

Both events took place at the same time, with each group trying to focus their attention on their own presentation. The humorous part is that the wait staff treated both events as one big party.

As I was speaking to our group, out of the corner of my eye I could see the other group mingling at the bar “ which happened to be on their side of the room. Lucky dogs. I sat down, and another speaker began. As if on cue, the entire wait staff descended with trays bearing flutes of champagne. Obviously we were supposed to toast the bride . From my seat I could see the other side of the room trying to decide what to do with their champagne as well. Calm heads prevailed as we collectively made the decision that good champagne should not go to waste.

pouring champagne in three glasses

Our speakers finished and we were ready to eat. Ahhh ¦but the other group's presentation was still in progress. Guess we have to wait for dinner. BUT NO! The wait staff suddenly appeared with salads, during the middle of their presentation. At that point, we all realized that our party was their party, and vice versa.

Sensing our hunger, or possibly hearing our stomachs growling, the wait staff served our side first. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Why do they always serve chicken at these things?

chicken and rice with vegetables on white plate with champagne

Our table had been joking about dessert being wedding cake. We really didn't expect wedding cake. Until we saw the saber-wielding wait person arrive with a cart full of plates. It really is a wedding reception! Without the bride and groom. But why wedding cake? The caterer had 3 weeks ™ notice. Did they really make the cakes that far in advance?

As we all pondered the generosity of the bride and her family, a more important thought crossed my mind.

Getting jilted by the one you love is a devastating blow. Picking yourself up afterwards and moving on with your life has got to be tough. Not to mention what do you do with the dress? It's not like you can turn all that satin and lace into a nifty little sundress to wear at the pool. Heaven forbid you have dyed-to-match shoes. Try walking in them out to the pool.

Yet isn't this situation eerily similar to being laid-off? Getting jilted by your employer, especially if you liked your job, can be devastating. The thought of losing not only your job but also your friends, your stability, your income, your sense of self can be heartbreaking. Just like the jilted bride, those who lose their jobs can find themselves feeling alone on an island “ without a ticket to go home.

Despite the trauma, the most important thing we can do when we lose our job is to stand up, brush ourselves off, hold our heads up, and move on. Have a party if you want, something to start a new chapter in your life. Just keep moving forward.

I would like to thank the bride and her family for the wonderful party. It was lovely, and our new non-profit definitely appreciated your generosity.

Next time “ if there is a next time “ just serve chocolate cake. It's what we all want.

slice of chocolate cake on white plate
© Tami Cannizzaro 2011 All Rights Reserved

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