If you read the FAQ, you know that Erin and I were both married before, and we both had all the trappings of The Big Day the last time around. For me, this included The Bachelor Party.
Since high school, I’ve been running with a group of guys that I consider my closest friends. Most of us live in the Chicago area, and we make it a point to get together once a month or so, with e-mails and phone calls in between. Every year, however many of us us that are able get together in Geneva, Wisconsin for a weekend of beer-drinking, steak-grilling, video-game playing, movie-watching and bull-shitting (commonly known as The Geneva Convention).
As all of us began to get married off, we started various traditions. One involved passing along a set of metal cufflinks that resembled six sticks of dynamite, one for each of us. The next guy to get married would have said cufflinks given to him the night before the wedding, with the previous groom delivering a speech full of been-there wisdom. (Except for the time one of us was delivered it mere hours after a dust-up with his wife. That was more like a speech full of worst-case scenarios.)
Another tradition was the escalating nature of our bachelor parties. At first, they were night-long events at one or two places within miles of the wedding Then they involved several locations within the tri-state area over a 24-hour period. By the time we got to my bachelor party, things had gotten to the “three days in Vegas” level. Our parents read this blog, so I’m not going to go into any additional details. But suffice it to say, limits were reached. Limits of tolerance and credit, mostly.
By this point, all of us have been married, some of us have kids, and others of us are working on our second walk down the aisle. When I was discussing my upcoming marriage plans, one of my friends reminded me that the cufflinks tradition was a one-time deal. It wasn’t a punitive move – I’ve had nothing but love and support from my friends and family when it comes to my relationship and soon-to-be marriage to Erin – but just an acknowledgment that this tradition was a one-time thing.
In a way, this makes sense. Nothing prepares you for your first marriage. You have no idea what you’re in for, or how hard it will be. So in a way, the traditions offer you support. The aspects of The Big Day give you a sense of those who have come before you, whether those things are a white dress, 1 Corinthians 13:4, or…a ridiculously out-of-bounds bachelor party.
But after that, you have a bit more wisdom than the first time out. You’re certainly not alone (did I mention how supportive my friends and family have been? Couldn’t have done this without them) and you’re also not walking in blind either. I think that’s why Erin and I haven’t felt as drawn to the trappings of our previous weddings. They were all very tied up in the memories of our first marriages, and the people we were then. We aren’t those people now. So we wanted a wedding that offered us an altogether different experience. For me, that meant no cufflinks, and no bachelor party.
Instead, I got together with the guys this weekend. Rather than a multi-day extravaganza, it was an evening over burgers at a place in the ‘burbs, with several beers (including a 2007 bottle of Samichlaus Bier, billed as “The World’s Most Extraordinary Beer,” which isn’t, but is worth ordering if you ever see it on a menu). We got caught up and recounted the same old stories again, plus a few new ones (I now know a fool-proof way to change a diaper without getting peed on). We talked about the next time we’d be getting together at our group’s annual Christmas party, with wives and kids in tow. As we were wrapping up the night – before midnight! – someone wondered if he should give a speech.
There wasn’t a need. After an evening that reminded me of all the people in my life that stood by me after my first marriage ended, it was clear I had all the knowledge and tradition I needed. – Scott