NEW ROCHELLE, NY—The lavish, 250-guest wedding of James and Mindy Gallagher, held Sunday at the New Rochelle Country Club, was enjoyed by no one but the bride.
"Today is such a beautiful day," said attendee Chris Barker, a second cousin of the groom, as he watched the newlyweds dance. "I can't believe I'm stuck spending it at this stupid thing when I could be out playing golf."
Barker, who drove four hours from Philadelphia to attend the event, was then dragged off for a table photo with the 14 complete strangers with whom he was seated.
"I'm pretty sure I've set my all-time single-day record for awkward conversations," continued Barker, forcing a smile as a photographer snapped the table picture. "Not that I could hear anything anybody said to me, what with that godawful wedding band blaring 'Old Time Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Love Shack' the whole time."
Like 249 of the 250 in attendance, members of the bridal party expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the $200,000 affair.
"To be honest, I never really liked Mindy all that much," said bridesmaid Ellen Lessing, 24, a college sorority sister of the bride. "I always thought she was kind of a stuck-up bitch. But when she asked me to be in her bridal party—I guess because I'd been her sorority sponsor back in college—I felt obligated to go. We've had almost no contact since graduation, yet I still flew halfway across the country just to be in the wedding of someone I hardly even know."
Compounding Lessing's misery was the "vomit-worthy" purple and teal dress that she and the other bridesmaids were forced to purchase and wear.
"This abomination cost me $675," said Lessing, who has no plans ever to wear the dress again. "I'd be pissed even if it didn't make me look like a walrus."
Other friends had their own reasons for not having a good time. These ranged from jealousy over not being included in the wedding party to unspoken resentment over all the attention heaped on Mindy, to the sad realization that Mindy would drift apart from her single friends now that she is married.
"Well, Mindy had a wonderful time, so I guess it was worth it, because this is her special day," said Dr. Carl Lingren, 54, father of the bride. "As for me, I'm still not sure why I blew almost $2,400 on place settings, but Mindy assured me that spending the extra money to have the seating cards foil-embossed would make the day 'truly special.' You'd think flying her three cousins and great aunt in from Sweden would've been enough to make it truly special, but apparently not."
Dr. Lingren then retired to the bar, where he proceeded to drink heavily.
Not even groom James Gallagher enjoyed the reception.
"This is the best day of my life," said Gallagher, reading from an index card in a robotic monotone. "All my life has led up to this magical moment, the day I am bound in eternal matrimony to my sweet Mindy forevermore."
Sources close to the groom say the commitment-phobic Gallagher had been dreading the event since Mindy first brought up the idea of marriage more than a year and a half ago, confiding to close confidants that he was "just doing it to finally shut her up."
Personal-relations expert and noted therapist Dr. Eli Wasserbaum said Gallagher's attitude is far from unusual.
"For men, trepidation about marriage is common," Wasserbaum said. "And a total lack of interest in the details of a wedding reception is more common still, even among those who marry willingly. As for the small handful of grooms who actually enjoy their wedding receptions, I'd say most of them are latently gay."
According to Ira Giraldi, editor of Wedding Style magazine, the dread felt by the average wedding guest is understandable.
"Most people don't enjoy weddings—why would they?" Giraldi said. "They have to sit around for long periods making uncomfortable small talk with people they barely know and will probably never see again. They're expected to help offset the great expense of the wedding by purchasing obligatory gifts arbitrarily chosen off some wedding registry—gifts that reflect nothing about the giver. Plus, it generally eats up an entire day, if not a whole weekend, in cases where air travel is involved."
Continued Giraldi: "Worst of all, nobody is ever allowed to openly express these universally held feelings. The rules of social conduct obligate guests to endure the entire experience with a surface patina of strained gaiety, a mask of merrymaking and good cheer that becomes progressively more difficult to maintain as the event drags on."
Despite the boredom of those around her, Mindy had "the most wonderful day ever," bursting into spontaneous tears of joy at several points during the awful-for-everybody-but-her experience.
"I could dance all night," Mindy said. "I wish Jimmy liked to dance more. But I don't care if I'm out on the floor all by myself. This is my day!"
The mother of the bride, traditionally the only other person capable of having a good time at a wedding, was not in attendance, as she died three years ago in a gruesome motorboat accident.