There was recently a piece in local newspaper about British Columbia’s new HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and how it’s going to affect a young couple’s wedding plans. Hah! I had to laugh.
Listen to this, I said, as I stomped into the living room, relishing the little tidbit that I was about to share with my husband.
The article explained that the couple were going to have to forgo their honeymoon trip to a resort in Mexico or Cuba, and “settle for something a little closer to home — Tigh-Na-Mara [Resort] in Parksville — in order to cover their catering bill.”
“Holy cow, do they know how much that place costs?” My husband said, “It’s probably cheaper in Mexico.”
Last time we checked, it was a small fortune to stay at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort, and that was off season.
I felt a rant coming on. I had that old, familiar dog-with-a-bone feeling wash over me. I wasn’t done with this one. Not by a long shot.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to Tigh-Na-Mara Resort for your honeymoon. It’s a world class destination. Parksville, B.C., absurd as it sounds, is considered by some to be Canada’s Riviera.
That’s where we spent our honeymoon, exactly one year after our wedding.
I was 34 when I got married. My husband and I had been together for several years already. We were not about to go into debt just to tie the knot. I wasn’t going to be sucked into a fluff-fest of monogrammed serviettes, frilly doilies, cello wrapped chocolate roses, and such. Oh no, not me.
I bought a shoulder-revealing lacy little dress that, for me, was completely out of character. But, hey, I was getting married.
I became markedly superstitious and decided not to wear pearls because they stand for tears. I had to have ivy and little pipe cleaner bees mixed in with my flowers and bouquets: symbols of Fidelity and Industry. Everything had to have meaning. Buzz, buzz, buzz.
Then, exactly, I repeat Exactly three weeks before the wedding, I learned that I had been exposed to the Chicken Pox. Including a two week incubation period, and a one week, full-on outbreak scab session, my face would be just clearing up, oh, let’s say, a day or two into the honeymoon.
The timing couldn’t have been more on the money, so to speak.
“Ai Yi Yi,” I moaned into the phone when I was informed.
“This may be good news. Or bad,” the caller had said hastily, before dropping the bomb and hanging up. “I’m at work, gotta go!” Click.
The ramifications of this little disclosure were monumental. Chicken Pox was the one childhood disease that I had not contracted as a child. I’d had the Mumps 3 times (Yes, it is possible.): once on the right side, once on the left, and then both sides of my neck. I had the regular old Measles and the German Measles to boot. I missed so much school in grade 2 that I almost failed the year But I did not, I repeat, did not, get the Chicken Pox.
Plus, my husband’s mother couldn’t remember if he’d had it before, and neither could any of his siblings. The possibilities were positively dazzling. If he were to contract Chicken Pox from me, he would be contagious on our wedding day. The sky was falling, the sky was falling.
It felt like I was living in a house of mirrors. All eyes were on me. At work, at home, and at play. What was she going to do? How would she cope? Would she implode? Self destruct? Jump off the cliff? The phone lines were burning up from Oak Bay to James Bay, Esquimalt to Fairfield. When I phoned the Public Health nurse, she said, “Oh, it’s YOU.” All across Victoria, the work gossips were having a heyday. People who never called me were checking in.
I couldn’t get my mind around any of it.
Just like clockwork, 10 days before our wedding, when I was making a little flower garland, the first two spots showed up on my left arm. Now it was official.
I was curtly informed by one relative, that we were not, under any circumstances, to come in contact with our elderly parents.
We were also expecting a number of older friends and family to attend the reception, and were repeatedly told that Chicken Pox and its complications can be fatal in the elderly. …And I considered myself lucky to have escaped it as a child. Ai Yi Yi.
Right around that time we were also advised that someone who’d attended the bridal shower had contracted shingles. Presumably, I had been contagious at that time and triggered it.
That was it, then. After checking with the Marriage Commissioner to make sure he was immune, we un-invited everyone and decided to go ahead with the ceremony anyway. The wedding would be at my place, with only the Matron of Honour and Best Man (also immune) in attendance. No one else.
Of course, we had to cancel the reception, which was probably just as well. It was to be at the family home of dear friends whose Nana (who lived in the suite upstairs) had suffered a stroke the day before the bridal shower, and we’d been trying to find an alternate arrangement anyway.
A relative by marriage (at the time) had offered to order the alcohol for the reception, and had set it up through a hotel they owned. They told us that there would be considerable savings if we went through them (turns out, when we sat down and did the math later, this little deal was going to save us a whopping $20.00). But the most vexing part was that when we inquired about cancelling the booze order, we were told it wasn’t possible.
Suffice to say, if I had trusted my better judgement and gone through the proper channels in the first place, we could have taken the alcohol back.
I was on the hook for $750.00 worth of booze which landed in my driveway three nights before the wedding. My (by now, quarantined) husband-to-be was shaking his head. He’d known all along the booze thing wasn’t good, but hadn’t said a word. He’d just hoped he was wrong. Well, he was right. The expression Penny wise and pound foolish come to mind?
There was no possibility of effective communication with this relative by marriage (at the time) either, who, by now was acting like they were the injured party.
If there’s anything I learned from this one, it’s: Nip it early. Nip it in the bud with the in-law types. Just say, “No. No, thank you. A thousand times, no.”
For my parents’ sake, in the interest of keeping sibling peace, which was tenuous at best in those days, I sucked it up and wrote a cheque for $750.00 and ended up with enough champagne in my basement to choke the entire cast of Upstairs, Downstairs.
To be continued…
‘Bashful Bride’ Paul H Photography @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.