Italian-American wedding. I was not ready.

I feel like, having lived in the diverse tri-state area for the all of my life so far, I have been exposed to many different cultures and their customs. I had not, however, been to an upscale Italian-American wedding. It was… intense. I’ve been to upscale Jewish weddings and I thought they were lavish but I was WRONG and INCORRECT. Let me give you some backstory: the couple is from Staten Island (Italian-American Mecca #1) and New Jersey (Italian-American Mecca #2). I’m surprised when they walk around, this music doesn’t automatically play in the background and the smell of fresh pizza wafts through the air.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UMbXxkWqPw

For the rest of this story I will give the bride and groom the pseudonyms JJ and Esteban to protect their identity. I went to the ceremony which was fine, standard Catholic ceremony, very sweet, the bride looked beautiful, parking in Hoboken was difficult, nothing out of the ordinary.

After that we drove into the wilds of New Jersey to the reception. Okay. I used to mock Esteban that his family made this commercial (pertinent part about halfway through with Scarlett Johannson):

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/marble-columns/n12141?snl=1

So imagine my unbridled glee with we pulled up to The One And Only Westmount Country Club (that’s its name).

Here’s a better picture I found on the internet.

Guys. If I had to sum up this place with one specific description, it would be “rainbow-cycling LED uplights.” It was on the outside of the building. It was in the trees. It was in the entry hall. It was in the floors of the reception area and in the chandeliers.

After walking under this glorious castle-like overhang I was greeted with glossy veined marble stairs with uplighting between every stair and fifty small chandeliers that changed color (you can see some of them in the back part of the picture). My friend Børkke had to pull me aside and remind me to behave myself because OMG.

There were attendants passing out drinks and hors d’oeuvres, all dressed in long, t-shirt material evening gowns and elbow-length black gloves. There was a stack of champagne glasses with small amounts of colored flavored syrup and the attendant would pour champagne into them.

There were plenty of snacks in the hallway – an assorted meat cart, an assorted cheese cart, a big plate of fruits, little snakkies, ladies bringing festive drinks around – so I thought that was a light cocktail hour. It was not. It was TRASH. We were eating TRASH from a DUMPSTER compared to the cocktail hour. Eventually they opened the door into the cocktail hour and it was pure gluttony. It was so fancy and excessive I kept waiting for French revolutionaries to storm the building and execute us all via guillotine. There were, I kid you not, maybe fifteen stations. I’ll try to remember all of them. There was veal scaloppini, risotto, chicken tetrazinni, arancini, kale and white beans, prime rib, thick-cut bacon and a full suckling pig wearing a chef’s hat. Those were the hot station with servers. Then there was the seafood area, complete with a two-foot tall ice sculpture of a fish, and that had oysters and crab claws and jumbo shrimp. There were about twenty different salads and a huge pile of pickled vegetables, antipasto-style. There was a person with a fancy shiny silver slicing machine and he would cut you molecule-thin strips of prosciutto. There was cheese. There was a fruit platter the size of a baby stroller. And, I might add, that’s only the parts of the room that I saw. There was a whole lot of remaining room I did not explore. There was more. It was insane. I was not well-behaved. Esteban came over to say hi and thank us for coming to the wedding. Did I say, “You looked nice?” Did I say, “It was a beautiful ceremony?” No. What I greeted him with was, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME IT WAS LIKE THIS?? I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT TUPPERWARE!!” Favorite picture of the night: someone offered to take a picture of our group of friends and said we should put down our plates and smile. I flat-out refused. Nothing interrupts Shrimp Time.

Eventually cocktail hour ended (why??? why did it have to end???) and in order to inform us that the proper reception was going to begin an otherwordly thing occurred. A bored, visibly pregnant attendant wearing the t-shirt evening gown and the elbow-length black gloves walked around the room like a spectre strumming a small set of chimes which sounded like when they have a flashback on a TV show. I feel like that’s what happens when you pass away in your sleep: a dead-eyed pregnant woman enters your dream slowly walking around in a stretchy black dress and fancy gloves making woobly-woobly sounds from a tiny percussive instrument. That’s your cue to get coins to pay Charon so he can ferry you across the river Styx. As soon as this apparition departed the lights dimmed and a curtain rose up to reveal the reception hall. At that moment I gave up all pretense of being a calm collected human being and started cheering and clapping. I was the only one. Everyone else was whelmed. I was flipping out. There were flowers everywhere and silver chafing dishes on the table and an 11-person band and swirly lights bouncing off of the giant chandeliers. I ended up taking a ton of pictures because the lights kept changing color and I couldn’t decide which color palette I liked best. After much culling of jpgs I’ve decided on this one.

The two bars in the back of the room looked like giant chrome spaceships. And there was a woman live-painting the party off to the side of the dance floor.

My only major complaints are, when announced, the couple did not rise up out of the floor and during the first dance there was no smoke machine workin’ overtime to create faux-mist. Way to drop the ball, Esteban. Other than that it was lovely. There was drinking and dancing and dinner, all of which was fine.

And then I saw the fire.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man wheel what appeared to be a crucible filled with liquid metal into the middle of the dance floor. I blame Game of Thrones for this, but does everyone who watches the show remember in Season One when Khal Drogo gives Jerkface McBlondDragon a “crown” by pouring molten gold over his head? Great scene. Here’s a link. You can start it about halfway through.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akl6OK2HUNA

So when this made an appearance I was like, “Oh no, someone did the family wrong and as a gesture of goodwill they’re going to kill that person in the middle of the dance floor! This wedding is amazing! And horrifying! I am awash in emotions!” Turns out it was an enormous baked Alaska and it signified the beginning of the dessert train. Following the baked Alaska was the wedding cake (which was small and tasteful and did not have white doves or a naked lady pop out, so meh), then there was a guy on a bicycle pushing a full gelato stand (holy crap), but the piece de resistance in my opinion was the giant shiny brass chocolate fountain that had milk chocolate on one side and white chocolate on the other and they cascaded down and around each other in twinkling gravy boats into a huge punch bowl with a partition in the middle so the two chocolates didn’t mix. After that came the full espresso / cappuccino cart but who cares because did you see the chocolate fountain? I now know how the wayward Israelites felt in front of the golden calf. I was obsessed with the chocolate fountain.

https://youtu.be/5gVs3iA-Ef4

And then there was more dancing and more frolicking and then it was over and we took some flower arrangements and went home. If you get invited to any event, a circumcision, a tax-filing conference, anything, at the Westmount Country Club, I highly recommend you go. Here’s a promotional video that has the chime ladies. And additional footage of the flaming dessert.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gMUnVMRuzo

One Response to “Italian-American wedding. I was not ready.”

  1. Colleen says:

    Long Island weddings are also a whole thing. I can send you the picture of the ‘shrimp boat’ which was a major selling point at a venue I did not book for our wedding. But it sounds like you had a fabulous time! (Have you seen True Life: I’m Getting Married with Charlie and Sabrina from Staten island? If not, you should, it’s a joy and a delight)

    BTW, you, Feeley and I should go out for drinks soon!

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