The Un-y-moon – Part I

Since I last published this post almost a year ago, I was concerned that the players involved might somehow stumble upon it and be furious.  But I have relaxed a bit about this since my husband, Geoffrey never reads this blog, and I have kept to an absolute minimum any digital photographs of any of us with the exception of my husband whose picture does appear in a handful of posts.  I have just calmed down and slowly incarnated into blogging about them candidly again, using my maiden name and my real life nickname (they know me by married last name, and Geoffrey has always called me Veronica because he grew up loving Archie comics and Veronica is my middle name — you following all this? Beth Byrnes is the last name they will think of, thank heaven).

So, I had made this post private, but decided that I will continue this ridiculous saga about my marriages (G and I were married twice on the same day as you will read below), receptions (ooooooh yes, I was forced to have a second “socially correct” post-nuptials party back in California when we returned from the first un-y-moon) and well, un-y-moons.  I had two of each.  Here is the first in a five-part series then: three published previously, with updates and two new ones.  I will probably not torture you with all of them in a row, but intersperse them with other posts, including the report on my recent guests (leaving as we speak).

Oh, and all the members of The in-Firm (my in-laws) are just hours away from stepping aboard a plane to be whisked off on this year’s family vacation, which Geoffrey and I excluded ourselves from for the reasons I already disclosed in a post late in the spring.  So, here we go again, and, well, Mahalo!


My early adult life may be of limited interest other than to offer an insight into my psyche (at least in earlier days) and the way things often work out.  I suspect all of us have anecdotes just like this one in some way or another.


Every one of my close friends got married the summer after we graduated from college, usually right before they took the requisite ‘grand tour’ of Europe, which often doubled as their honeymoon.

Being an iconoclast, I went straight to graduate school after my trip (which was hilarious, grist for an upcoming post). In fact, I had planned to switch careers from special ed to psychology at the last minute and so my application was late.  I made an appointment to see the head of the department and literally there and then talked that man into letting me into the program, a few days before classes started.  I will always be grateful to him for taking a chance on me because, as someone later disclosed, I didn’t look like I was serious enough for the career (more on that another time).

So, I did not get married for several years.  Now, here was the horns of a dilemma (to be trite). I did not want the usual bride-on-the-dais/everyone-drunk-and-dancing-on-tabletop spectacle that all my friends had.  I had been a bridesmaid and had a very clear idea of what those things were like.  So, I purposely planned a very small wedding out of town.  My family and family-in-law are Roman Catholic, from New York and Los Angeles respectively, so naturally I picked an Episcopalian church in Philadelphia.

This is what it looked like: my side, a handful of people; his side – the big clan

To say that everyone in every branch of the extended family were miffed, is to put it mildly.  I have cousins who to this day will not speak to me because I did not invite them to my wedding, when they had invited me to theirs.  There were college girlfriends who were mad that they didn’t get to be bridesmaids, since they had asked me to be a bridesmaid (which I frequently turned down). And, natch, I alienated the entire family of in-laws who gave their own daughter an epic wedding to end all weddings, truly, blowing the wad on it. Now I was perceived as being the poor relation because our ‘reception’ was in a small Italian restaurant and only had a plain cheesecake to cap it off.

We further scandalized everyone by not giving out wedding albums, even though we had a wedding photographer. We just made one album for ourselves. Whenever I need a good laugh, I get that album out and it works every single time. The pictures show the bride looking dubious, the groom with an oh-sh*t grimace the whole time and all of us shivering in dated outfits.  In fact, I almost didn’t wear “white” at all because it was the dead of winter and there was a few feet of snow on the ground all over the city.  But I caved, lest anything else imply to the elders on both sides that my virtue was as questionable as my finances. So, I bought an ‘ecru and shell’ (so I was told) cocktail dress right off a sale rack two days before I took the train to Pennsylvania.

I will likely not see my dress again as it is hermetically sealed and shrouded. Who knows what color it is by now!

OK, so the ceremony itself went off fairly well.  We had finally talked the minister into marrying us, even though we weren’t Episcopalians.  The local archdiocese of the Catholic Church refused to allow a priest to be there too, which would have made the elders on both sides feel better.  In fact, my husband’s  grandmother had already decided we were not married, so we had to plan a second ceremony later that day in the hotel with a family priest from New Jersey invited for the occasion.  That alone could be the subject of a dissertation. One of my husband’s brothers was a religious scholar and he actually made the hosts out of bread in the hotel kitchen.

The Brawl Room, madame? Right this way …

The days before and after the event were emotional cauldrons.  Apparently weddings bring up everyone else’s couple-karma.  Shortly after we were all comfortably ensconced in one of the nicest hotels in Philadelphia — very Main Line stuffy — one of the ‘adult’ members of my husband’s family got very drunk and apparently started an altercation.  This led to my MIL virtually falling apart and coming to my husband-to-be on dress rehearsal eve, hysterical so he had to spend the entire night walking her back from the brink. During that same night, the priestly brother-in-law, only 18 at the time, actually slugged the drunk relative thus seriously upsetting other hotel guests who heard this ongoing fracas and complained to the hotel.

I got a replacement and promptly had it stolen!

The wedding photos show the drunk relative with a black eye, and the BIL with a cast on his hand.  Yes.  This was my wedding.  And it went on like this.

So mentally overwrought was everyone, that at the wedding breakfast my new husband spent most of his time ministering to members of the wedding party. I was appalled but thankful that it wasn’t someone from my side!  Subsequent events unfolded from this problematic theme.  Some of the gifts that we were given were lost in transit after we left the hotel; on the way out the door, another hotel patron stepped on my suitcase and crushed it; I hadn’t noticed in time, but my satin shoes were irreparably damaged by the salt the city threw down on the sidewalks to melt the snow outside the hotel; my mother had my wedding dress preserved with the usual blue tissue and sealed in plastic but overlooked telling them to make it see-through, so for twenty years I have had an opaque unwieldy but delicate box that I cannot open without destroying its preservative qualities;  I forgot to take snow boots for the honeymoon in Vermont and ended up borrowing some that were one size too big for me, and let all the snow in after all; and the hotel Concierge presented my father-in-law with the bill instead of my father, aggravating my humiliation as the the shady pauper.

I still have ’em, but they are stiff and tight now, sadly

(To be continued…)




Uh-oh, I I tried to reblog this and think I may have messed it up, so if it appears twice in your Reader, my bad!

20 Comments on “The Un-y-moon – Part I”

  1. oh wow. Your story started out like mine but went way farther downhill than ours did. Neither my nor my husband’s side of the family are the type to have rich traditions, including weddings, so although HIS mother was disappointed we didn’t have a huge shindig that could be the social event of the year like her daughter had, his father could’ve cared less, and my family was just glad my husband agreed to pay for the whole thing so they got off cheap (I did not want a ceremony at all, but my husband did, so i told him he’d have to pay for it and he agreed. i went along with the whole thing, but grudgingly. i wanted to go to Vegas and be done with it). Small wedding, 70 people, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and it was over in about 5 hours end of story. No one got too bent out of shape about it overall. I was also considered an “old maid” in my family for marrying so “late” (I was 30).


  2. LOL! I was also considered an old maid by my husband’s family. His mother was married at 20 and his sister at 19. Neither he nor I wanted any of this. We would have been quite happy at City Hall in Manhattan. We had 50 people, 8 on my side. I would rather have had the cash. The in-laws have never let me live it down. My MIL still sneers whenever the name ‘Philadelphia’ comes up but she would have hated doing it in NYC too, so that is irrelevant. The only place that would have made her happy was holding it in LA (but she had her way on that in the end, which I will talk about in the future). They consider me weird (and actually, so does my family).


    • My family used to consider me weird for many reasons – they never got the poetry thing, and I did not want children, primarily. That and marrying late. But by now, most of my siblings’ kids have become nothing but troublesome and they absolutely LOVE my photography – go figure. My mother even thinks all my wigs and costume are the business. On his side it’s just too small for anyone, even if they do think I’m bonkers, to bother me. So once again I luck out on the family thing, LOL! Sounds like you have your hands full.


      • Well, what I have concluded is that they think I have felt superior and so their mission has been to bring me down a peg or two. A family full of boys tends to thrive on teasing and criticism. I get it all, my hair, my clothes, my car, my diet, my profession – all of it is under constant scrutiny like a prize cow, LOL. I am better at dealing with it now than I was at first. Only children are pretty spoiled. You must seem like a film star with all your theatrics. You go girl!


      • Actually, I already posted three of these last year, and will be re-posting the other two soon, then writing four and five. I had made these first three private but now realize, it is fine to have them here. Forgive me, LOL!! I panicked unnecessarily last year. My thoughts are just not that important to The inFirm, after all. 😀


  3. Thanks for sharing, this is definitely something I’ve not experienced but I enjoy the angle tongue-in-check delivery.

    I never understand that those that are only being related to each other via your marriage, get so affronted when the ‘proper thing’ is not observed.
    You are married, you love each other and you both respect each other and said families, to ‘absent’ yourselves for sanity’s sake.

    I understand without being married to my long time BF, my mom still doesn’t discuss him and he is not even given the Title of ‘Boyfriend’….well that is another story and well best met not here.

    Have a great evening and thought this update was great. 🙂


    • My family-in-law did not want my husband to get married so young, did not approve of me, and has never really accepted me. I don’t get it other than they are rather negative and judgmental people. Geoff was supposed to wait until he was in his 40s I guess, marry a young, nubile, blond, rich, uneducated, meat eater mouseburger who would look up to the in-laws. Instead, he got married in his twenties to the exact opposite. That is the problem in a nutshell. Thank you for your kindness and support! ❤


  4. Too funny, though I’m certain it wasn’t at the time. Too bad his family wasn’t savvy enough to understand that proper etiquette at a wedding is to keep the bride the center of attention! 😉 Aaaah, relatives.


    • I was shell-shocked for the first three years. Really, this was inexcusable for someone so educated, traveled, and trained in human social behavior. Somehow, I just didn’t see this wall of problems coming at me like a juggernaut. Now, I am just managing it. Thank goodness Geoffrey and I ironed out most of our own differences early. 🙂


      • I don’t know why, but for some reason this reminds me of an epiphany I had when I turned 40. It has absolutely nothing to do with family, so take it for the 2 cents it’s worth.

        I recalled, as my 40th birthday approached, a women’s seminar I took in my twenties. The seminar leader told all us young women that when we turned 40, we’d all have our s*** together.

        This huge light bulb went on as my birthday was within the next couple of days, and I began to laugh. Wow, did she snooker us! Not only did women turning 40 NOT have their s*** together – no one did – EVER!

        In my 60s, it gives me great perspective on judgment and patience. 😉


        • Oh, what a wonderful point! You are so right. Remember, too, the days when they predicted we would all have so much leisure time on our hands? We would retire early and have nothing but time to play and lots of cash to do it with? WRONG! We are all working harder, longer, for less and dealing with far higher expectations in every arena. It is remarkable that we are not all basket cases. 😀


  5. Wow, not your traditional wedding for sure. But, at least there wasn’t gunfire.
    Mine was a high noon wedding in Reno, Nevada. Two sets of parents and us. Being Catholic also, my parents didn’t even consider it a marriage, but rather a weekend in Reno. The reception consisted of a clubhouse sandwich at a casino restaurant.
    Since high expectations were not even a consideration, anything positive that happened from that day on was classed as a miracle.


    • We might as well have made our lives simple and done something simpler. It would have saved a lot of time, trouble and disappointment. The whole ceremonial and rite of passage aspect of marriage sacrifices the actual meaning of the commitment, imho. And so we get married to make our parents happy. What’s up with that? Oh well, live and learn! Thank you Rebecca. 😀


        • Well, that was a lot to deal with for two teenagers. My heart goes out to you. But, you likely got the joy of having a child through that process. My father would have killed me, so you had good parents!


          • We say that extended family only really all get together for ‘hatches, matches and dispatches’. And when they do, look out for fireworks!
            It almost seems inevitable that all the private angst that people feel or keep within their own small set all come to the surface at occasions where a few drinks are taken, conversation turns to who said what and did what back when and, before you know it, WWWlll is on the agenda!
            It certainly is not ideal at the time but, by god, it makes for great anecdotes at parties later. And blog posts. 🙂


            • It is so true, Anne-Marie. Because our wedding was more about family and their sensitivities, to this day we don’t celebrate our anniversary on that winter day, but in the spring on the day we met. Both of us would rather forget the Philadelphia fiasco, but my MIL used to bring it up periodically and remind us that is was snowy, inconvenient, not in a Roman Catholic church and that my father almost didn’t get the bill and Geoff;s father almost paid for it. No wonder we have to find the humor in it! 🙂 Thank you for commenting (and reading all this).


  6. Pingback: The Un-y-mooners: the grand finale | Beth Byrnes

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