"Have you given us all of your information so that we can call you and send you seemingly non-applicable mail thinly related to your upcoming nuptials and for the door prize?" says the kind woman at the bridal-show desk.
At least that's what I hear. I was told there would be beer here. And that we could get chicken wings afterwards.
I'm newly engaged. There were a number of other steps that came before, but this one - the bridal show - is the one I'm at now. This is the step that is built least for me. I'm not sure why I came, honestly. She said I didn't have to go. I have no idea if she means it or if this is one of those things where I'm told I don't have to go if I don't want to, but its very clear to everyone but me that to skip out would be a bad idea. Also, I was told there was a groom's lounge. And that there would be beer there.
I'm at the Charlotte Wedding Connection bridal show at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Speedway Club. Wood paneling and black cloth partitions are occasionally interrupted by lace and business signs that would make even the most cold-hearted Kinko's employee smile. The nice desk ladies points out that I can wait in the groom's lounge, where there is a beer tasting. While unstated, the statement “You don’t belong here, this is our place. Also, are you aware there is mustard on your jeans?” is implied.
First stop? Cakes. Well, the first first stop was mimosas at the door. But the second first step was cakes. This is actually a pretty nice part. Normally eating a teaspoon of cake from a tiny wrapper and having to look directly into the eyes of the salesperson would be uncomfortable, but this is good cake, so it takes the edge off. It also helps if you say "that's delicious!" which apparently everyone says. It’s also the thing to say if you want them to keep giving you cake. I don't care if it's Pavlovian. I like cake.
I enjoy the gentleman in a white tux, a salesperson for the dove release company. I am struck by a few questions: 1) Is it a one-way transaction or do the doves come back after a set amount of time? 2) Do I get charged extra for birds that don't return on time/at all 3) Do you do only weddings or do you also do sideline work with the lucrative Charlotte peace treaty signing-ceremony industry? Also, why is there only one dove release company here? I want to be able to compare prices and perhaps play you off each other to get a discount. Mo' discount means mo' doves.
I am told my performance at the photo booth stand seemed "wooden," which wouldn’t have happened if somebody would tell me where they’re hiding the beer. The next area was all wedding dresses, hair, makeup services and other things that my mind has blocked. My fiancée saw the look on my face and said the blessed words, "You can go get drunk out of your mind now"... or "We're done with the group decisions, you should go to the groom's lounge now." Again, a bit fuzzy.
I head into the groom's lounge and find the beer sampling. I sample beer. Apparently, since there is no Groom's Show, the bar was the place to sell to men. The gentleman selling attire to grooms (you can spot him because he's male and not clutching a beer) asks if I would be interested in their casual wedding jeans, labeled The Protégé. Aside from those jeans being $129 and the mustard-stained ones I'm wearing, I see no significant reason to upgrade. Maybe a future version of 'The Protégé' will have mustard-stain fighting technology. Or Bluetooth.
I, beer in hand and not surrounded by a tyranny of lace, enjoy my sampling of beers as I watch what I'm guessing are the NASCAR time trials going on outside. I don't know. It was race cars doing stuff. At random intervals, my impending wife to-be comes to check on me to make sure that I hadn't run out of beer.
She finds me in increasingly good spirits, and I find her utterly adorable. Also, someone had sculpted her hair. I don't know what the hair-do is called, but it says "Hey, I'm a bride." She had that, and it will make her positively the fanciest girl eating chicken wings.
Eventually, she has her fill of cake samples, wedding DJ sample discs and entries into various contests, and it is time to eat.
Getting to stay in a bar watching cars go very fast and still getting credit for a day out helping her...I like my fiancée. Here's hoping the marriage will be equally fun. It should be. I was told there would be beer there.