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Wedding Bells
by [?]

Champagne is often pleasant at lunch, it is always delightful at dinner, and it is an absolute necessity, if one is to talk freely about oneself afterwards, at a dance supper. But champagne for tea is horrible. Perhaps this is why a wedding always finds me melancholy next morning. “She has married the wrong man,” I say to myself. “I wonder if it is too late to tell her.”

The trouble of answering the invitation and of thinking of something to give more original than a toast rack should, one feels, have its compensations. From each wedding that I attend I expect an afternoon’s enjoyment in return for my egg stand. For one thing I have my best clothes on. Few people have seen me in them (and these few won’t believe it), so that from the very beginning the day has a certain freshness. It is not an ordinary day. It starts with this advantage, that in my best clothes I am not difficult to please. The world smiles upon me.

Once I am in church, however, my calm begins to leave me. As time wears on, and the organist invents more and more tunes, I tremble lest the bride has forgotten the day. The choir is waiting for her; the bridegroom is waiting for her. I–I also–wait. What if she has changed her mind at the last minute? But no. The organist has sailed into his set piece; the choir advances; follows the bride looking so lonely that I long to comfort her and remind her of my egg stand; and, last of all, the pretty bridesmaids. The clergyman begins his drone.

You would think that, reassured by the presence of the bride, I could be happy now. But there is still much to bother me. The bridegroom is showing signs of having forgotten his part, the bride can’t get her glove off, one of the bridesmaids is treading on my hat. Worse than all this, there is a painful want of unanimity among the congregation as to when we stand up and when we sit down. Sometimes I am alone and sitting when everybody else is standing, and that is easy to bear; but sometimes I find myself standing when everybody else is sitting, and that is very hard.

They have gone to the vestry. The choir sings an anthem to while away the kissing-time, and, right or wrong, I am sitting down, comforting my poor hat. There was a time when I, too, used to go into the vestry; when I was something of an authority on weddings, and would attend weekly in some minor official capacity. Any odd jobs that were going seemed to devolve on me. If somebody was wanted suddenly to sign the register, or kiss the bride’s mother, or wind up the going-away car, it used to be taken for granted that I was the man to do it. I wore a white flower in my button-hole to show that I was available. I served, I may say, in an entirely honorary capacity, except in so far as I was expected to give the happy pair a slightly larger present than the others. One day I happened to suggest to an intending groom that he had other friends more ornamental, and therefore more suitable for this sort of work, than I; to which he replied that they were all married, and that etiquette demanded a bachelor for the business. Of course, as soon as I heard this I got married too.

Here they come. “Doesn’t she look sweet?” We hurry after them and rush for the carriages. I am only a friend of the bridegroom’s; perhaps I had better walk.

It must be very easy to be a guest at a wedding reception, where each of the two clans takes it for granted that all the extraordinary strangers belong to the other clan. Indeed, nobody with one good suit, and a stomach for champagne and sandwiches, need starve in London. He or she can wander safely in wherever a red carpet beckons. I suppose I must put in an appearance at this reception, but if I happen to pass another piece of carpet on the way to the house, and the people going in seem more attractive than our lot, I shall be tempted to join them.