Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

The Ultimate Recipe for Marital Bliss

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Society | 0 comments

My wife might be an evil genius. We married in Mexico, but she doesn’t speak Spanish; I do. Which meant I was responsible for communicating her vision to our vendors while beating them down on pricing — already a perilous and fraught middle-man position.

Whenever anyone expresses interest in having a perfect Pinterest-like wedding like ours, I always warn them about dealing with people outside of your culture, especially on islands or coastal destinations. You are more likely to convince a cow to lick your head before getting a vendor to do what they promised.

If you don’t have a Spanish-speaking person in your couple, don’t get married in a Spanish-speaking country unless you don’t mind being a sucker. You don’t even have to look around the palapa to find out who it is; you will forever be the sucker.

It wasn’t easy for me, either. We kept hitting roadblocks. In those moments, we would plan for the wedding to happen in San Diego, where we were living when we were engaged. The prices were the same in all the places we were considering.

$200 would allow our guests to exist within the physical confines of their space. The $200, of course, didn’t include standing up on cute rugs as all the rugs were hideous. Maybe they choose these rugs because they don’t want people to hang out past the curfew or to cover stains from when people go wild. If I have to guess, they are there so the couple of honor can have a good marriage. If you have your reception on such an awful rug, things will always look upward.

At $200, it would have added quickly because Irish and Italian families always come in overwhelmingly giant clusters, just like cotton candy grapes.

If we wanted to have our guests standing up while using tongs to eat carefully measured and burned-out bits of top shit-loin, $200 might have worked. But don’t forget, we still needed to factor in essentials like food, entertainment, cutlery, toilet paper, and air conditioning.

Whenever we hit a roadblock in San Diego, we would wistfully turn our eyes to Playa del Carmen in la Riviera Maya, a place Justine and loved.

We traveled to Playa and toured three places, but none of them spoke to us. When we came back after a disappointing day, the hotel we were staying at, El Taj, hosted a large international event for wedding coordinators.

We were able to see how El Taj would look decorated for a reception. We were excited because this was the place we had been going to, and the same staff we had made friends with over the years would be working the wedding. It felt very special, and it was. The waiters chased my wife and me whenever we didn’t have a drink in our hand with concoctions they created especially for us.

We pulled the trigger on a wedding coordinator that we interviewed and liked, and just like that, she disappeared. We never heard from her again. We interviewed a second person, and she disappeared, too. But then, a few months later, in a period when we had come back to contemplate mortgaging our future to host a reception in San Diego, she appeared and demanded payment of three times her deposit immediately. So, we never talked to her again as we would never be sure that she wouldn’t use our money to escape to a different tropical setting with more horses, roosters, and illegal betting.

We chose one of the locations we had visited, Grand Coral, for the ceremony, and we hosted the reception at Indigo, the restaurant of El Taj.

People have sayings about island time. It exists, and there is also such thing as island customer service. It applies to anywhere with a beach and a nice view. When you have a beach and a nice view, nothing matters. You just need to find a way to get some money to keep enjoying the view and maybe some Pina Coladas.

Whenever I needed something, I was told that I’d get it regardless of how ridiculous it was.

“Do you have mauve burlap napkins?”
“Sí, señor. No hay problema!”
“Can we do a bonfire on the rehearsal so our guests can do s’mores?”
“Sí, señor. No hay problema!”
“Can we get a flock of Toco Toucans to deliver my wife to the altar so she doesn’t have to walk?” 
“Sí, señor. No hay problema!”

I decided I needed boots on the ground — someone with a local presence that would be in my corner. I found a Spanish ex-pat. I did not know it at the time but had been infected by the island disease, and she was a “Sí, señor. No hay problema!” gal.

She was the one who told me that I was able to get a bonfire going for our reception and confirmed it when she picked up the remainder of the payment. Then she called me a block later after I had handed her all my money to tell me that, unfortunately, we were not going to be able to do it because of the wind in the area.

I didn’t feel like pushing. I didn’t want to be one of those people who march forward with fire entertainment regardless of the weather conditions and then burns entire properties.

The morning of the civil service, which we did in San Diego, I got a call from our wedding coordinator as we were heading out, “don’t freak out.” Which categorically is the worst way to get someone to freak out by telling them not to do it when there is reason to freak out because why else would you say do not freak out.

“Do not freak out, but the place you are holding your ceremony burnt down.”
“What happened?”
“A couple was told they couldn’t use fireworks because of the wind, but they ignored it and pressured the vendor to do it anyway. It only burned part of the main palapa, but they are already remodeling, and everything will be complete for your wedding.”
“Will it be done by the time we get there?”
“Okay, then, I don’t think we need to tell this to Justine. She got news of a death in her family over the weekend.”

Sometimes you just choose to let people lie to you. You don’t have to tell me who the sucker was in this dynamic. It was me.

Four weeks later, when we got to tour the club, to my delight and that of my wife, we found an obnoxious black tarp covering the palapas.

It was the first thing people could see when driving into the property. Still, the ceremony was taking place away from it with an uninterrupted view of the blue ocean in front of us — uninterrupted because I’m choosing to ignore the sixty-year-old woman in her bathing suit who was behind us taking pictures of our ceremony.

The woman stuck around for the entire service, and when our wedding party got together to take pictures, she was taking pictures of us, along with our two photographers, so we invited her to stand in one of the pictures with us, and she did.

From all the weird scammy ideas that the wedding industry makes us buy into, none is a more giant sham than the cocktail hour. The couple spends a lot of time thinking of what they will put in their mouth right after the ceremony because they have sustained weeks of foolish torture-like exercise and dieting to look good for the pictures (you know, for posterity and all). But they get no access to the appetizers because they have to take precisely one bazillion square pictures with everyone under the sun.

I was excited about the bacon-wrapped cantaloupes because they were trendy at the time. I discovered that the cantaloupe embraces the bacon in a cold, soggy embrace, and it is not as tasty as the pictures make them out to be.

After the pictures were done and my wife and I had eaten exactly no appetizers, we headed back to the reception.

There were plenty a hitch like our baker messed up the inside colors of the wedding cake and the DJ misplaced the playlist we had worked on for so long, and how I invited every single person to same something nice about our love but really more about how great of a guy I was and how lucky my wife was to marry me.

For a while, my wife and I were so caught up in everything that went wrong that we had a hard time appreciating how special it was that we were in an exotic destination with all the people we loved.

We decided that we would forget about everything that went into making the wedding happen, and instead, we would see the wedding through our guests’ eyes. I knew it would be easy because I married the woman of my dreams.

By not eloping and planning our wedding, I learned how to navigate the many dangerous landmines of negotiating reality in marriage. I use the same powers of reframing and self-desilusión I gained after the wedding planning to work through many martial impasses.

I know how to act when my wife tells me I need to change my underwear or when she tells me my breath smells like peanut butter, or when I am forever responsible for the toilet seat position or when she abandoned me during our honeymoon right before the worst accident of my life.


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