Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Cousin's Big Fat Mormon Wedding -- or Is It My Big Fat Cousin's Mormon Wedding?

OK, so this is a slight exaggeration of what the guests at the reception will see-- for one thing, the cake is much more professionally done in the picture than the real one will be -- but it's close enough for readers to  get the gist.

My cousin is getting married next month.  My parents received an invitation to the wedding and reception. Despite the printed invitation, they cannot attend the wedding ceremony  because they are not holders of temple recommends, and the wedding will be held in the Draper, Utah Temple. They will go to the reception and eat peanuts and little mints and maybe a bit of wedding cake with punch. LDS receptions in my family are high-budget affairs [sarcasm font]. Seriously, if that's all the couple can afford, it makes more sense to do it that way than to incur any debt over a wedding. I would like to think that the parents of the bride and groom could have scraped together a few pennies -- hell, maybe they even could have bonded over  a "collect aluminum cans day"  -- for a very slightly higher-scale affair, but my cousin's father is the legendary Uncle Mahonri -- pilferer, plunderer, prowler, purloiner, whatever one might wish to call him as long as it means thief -- of goods and commodities from the homes of every relation on the planet. 

As far as the groom's family's financial situation goes, I haven't the faintest idea as to where they fall in the grand scheme of all things pecuniary. They could be living on skid row, or thy could be practically the Romneys. More likely, they fall somewhere in between, but figure that if the bride's family isn't coughing up anything of significance to provide a moderate wedding reception, why should they, although I can't help wondering if they'll be embarrassed to invite their friends to the debacle.  Then again maybe they and their friends fit right in with Mahonri's crowd. Furthermore, my cousin is a granddaughter of a high-ranking authority in the LDS church. That alone will give a person or family a bit of a pass in terms of the gossip or ridicule that otherwise might ensue. Perhaps this is the way the church is recommending that things be done now.

Mahonri probably should've directed his theft toward the purpose of supplying foods, paper products, and everything else he would need for his daughter's wedding reception about six months ago every time he visited one of our homes. Then again, perhaps he did. The mints and peanuts the guests  may be eating in a couple of weeks may very well have not come have come from Ridley's Family Market or WinCo but, rather, from my Uncle Michael's pantry.  The punch may have been a direct raid on my Uncle Steve's children's KoolAid supply for the summer. My parents may have provided the sugar.  I'm not sure who in the family stockpiles cake mixes and frostings, but with Mormons and their two-year food supply custom, surely someone among us does.

Someone still has to bake the cake and make it vaguely resemble a wedding cake, and neither Mahonri, Marthalene (the bride's mother ), nor Celeste (the bride) is capable  of making a cupcake that either looks or tastes like a cupcake, much less a wedding cake that does the same. My Aunt Celine is probably the least  sub-par of the bakers among that faction (if my use of the word faction to describe a portion of our family sounds as if we're a family at war, such is not far from the truth ) of the family, so she'll probably be roped into the task of making the wedding cake. 

If Celeste were just a bit nicer to those of use who live in California, my Aunt Joanne (wife of Uncle Michael, and therefore aunt-by-marriage to the bride) is highly adept at baking and decorating wedding cakes and probably would have offered her services.  It was a skill she mastered in high school, and she relied heavily on it to finance her way through medical school. She still bakes and decorates wedding cakes for special people in her life, of whom I hope someday to be one. Her cakes look like the ones you might see on the cake competitions on the Food Networks (the real wedding cakes -- not the ones where the competitors are supposed to incorporate Tom Sawyer Island or the Pirates of the Caribbean themes into their  cakes) or at Charm City Cakes or on the Cake Boss. She's an artist. On the other hand, she earns whatever it is medical specialists earn in a single day. Why should she forfeit that pay to drive or fly to Utah and bake a fantastic cake for someone who A) wouldn't appreciate it; and B) probably already helped herself [via her father] to all the peanuts and little pastel mints in Aunt Joanne's pantry to feed to her wedding reception guests?

The reception will be held at Celeste's family's local LDS chapel. Mahonri will steal flowers from unsuspecting neighbors' gardens to hang in and around the basketball hoops in an utterly futile attempt to disguise the hoops.(It's actually only the flowers that are disguised.) That's a hallmark of a Mormon wedding reception held at the ward meetinghouse: what innovative way will someone come up with to attempt to disguise the ever-present basketball hoops?  The best one I ever saw was a non-disguise. Halfway through the reception, planned or not, tables were pushed out of the way, and the groom and his buddies, and even a few bridesmaids,  picked up a basketball and started a full-court game right in the middle of the reception. It was a classic.  The bride stood on the sidelines cheering on her new husband.

Oddly, I saw the same thing at an LDS funeral once as well, if you can believe it. Mourners left the chapel and entered the "cultural hall" (more typically referred to in churches as a social hall, but that's a very minor distinction) to have a light lunch of foods prepared by the  members of the Relief Society, the LDS church's women's organization.  Tables were at one end of the cultural hall. The deceased woman's thirteen -year-old son saw a basketball sitting idly (remember Newton's theory about objects at rest tending to remain that way) and chose to put the object in question -- the basketball -- in motion.  At first the mother of the deceased was taken aback, but before she could raise an audible objection, players had chosen up sides and a half-court game was in progress.   The basketball game was fitting in the particular case,  as the deceased had been a college physical education instructor and had coached teams in numerous sports, including basketball. She would have approved, and I suspect, wherever she was, she considered it a proper send-off. I didn't participate in the game, but my father and brother both did.

Mahonri wouldn't have a basketball game at his daughter's wedding reception if for no other reason than that basketballs are more difficult to conceal when stealing -- he has a belly on him, but not that big of one -- and he does have his probation to consider.  While he might have gotten his jollies from the risk of ripping off some twelve-year-old's basketball, the logistics would have been tougher to pull together.  Just whose basketball would he steal, anyway,  and how could he know it would be where he thought it would be at the time he planned to steal it?   Flowers, on the other hand, don't walk or roll away, nor are they stored away in the rooms of adolescent boys. If  Mahonri had thought of it in December, he might have given his son a basketball as a Christmas present, which then could have been use as a decoration and activity at his daughter's wedding reception, but even then, he probably would have needed to surreptitiously "borrow  it to obtain it in the first place, which would have set the whole logistical chain in motion again.  Furthermore, Celeste had no plans to marry way back in December. She met her fiancĂ© in June, he proposed in July, and the wedding will take place in August. It's hard to plan a wedding with "borrowed" goods on such short notice. Mahonri has done well to acquire the supplies he already has.

Ironically, if Mahonri  just asked nicely, the flowers would probably be given to him freely even though his neighbor's probably think he's a horse's butt,, but my suspicion is that Mahonri gets a thrill out of getting up before the sun is up and of sneaking into the yards of others to help himself to what is not rightfully his. He does need to be at least a little bit careful, as I'm not sure he's free and clear where his probation is concerned  from the charges stemming from his theft  ("borrowing"?) of a carton of disposable douches from the loading zone of a local big box store, but that probably only adds to the thrill for him. If the neighbors attend the reception, I wonder if they'll recognize their own flowers from their gardens.

What would be hysterical beyond belief would be if all the neighbors within a mile radius or so of Mahonri's house cut all their flowers from their yards before they went to bed the night before Celeste's wedding and reception. When Mahonri awoke, donned his dark clothing, and went out with plastic garbage bags and shears and found nothing left to cut, he might possibly lose bladder control. A man with Mahonri's history of theft is  not a man thoroughly absent of wiles, though, and it would eventually occur to him to drive to a neighboring community and obtain the flowers from the homes of the saints living there.  Dawn would be growing closer, which would increase his chances of being caught in the act, but it might only add to the thrill for Mahonri.

As to my attendance at the wedding reception, it won't happen. I was not invited. The outer envelope listed my parent's names. The inner envelope listed very specifically, "Brother and Sister Rousseau and Matthew."  I was in my Aunt Marthalene's handwriting, so they cannot blame the omission on  a clueless member of the groom's family. Aunt Marthalene knows perfectly well that my parents have two children. It was a most deliberate omission, and, I might add, a most unnecessary omission. The aunt and uncle who left me in the smoke-filled house, then blamed me because child welfare services took its time in conducting its final investigation and returning their two youngest children to the family, will be present at the wedding.  There were more details in the negligent care I was given while under their supervision than I have chosen to share here. What I have just relayed scarcely scratches the surface of the horror  I suffered at their hands.  After a single court proceeding at which I appeared where they were present,  I told my parents that I never wish to see them again. My parents said that, to the best of their control of the situation, my wish will be honored. The family I wish not to see will be in attendance at the wedding and/or reception (children and  teens who have not been through the temple endowment ceremony aren't allowed to attend the temple ceremony even if they come from 'worthy" families).  Even if I were the guest of honor, therefore, I would decline the invitation.

My cousin was stupid not to have invited me. She just turned nineteen, has few college credits and fewer job skills. Her husband's college credits and job skills are even more lacking than hers. Despite my disinclination to attend, I would have sent a one-hundred dollar check independent of whatever my parents gave. Many (not all; I can't imagine the Coveys being cheapskates when it comes to wedding gifts) LDS church members are notoriously parsimonious (it was the kindest descriptor my brain could conjure at this late hour) when it comes to offering wedding gifts. Gift registries for weddings are a joke in most Mormon communities. One is more likely to receive a white elephant gift at a Mormon wedding reception than receive anything on his or her gift registry.  Baby shower gifts are a bit less penurious by nature if only because some of the givers are highly skilled at sewing, quilting, crocheting, knitting, and such, and share those talents in making baby gifts, but, for whatever reason, wedding gifts rarely receive the same attention or generosity. The one-hundred dollar check I would have sent with my parents, not because I'm fond of the cousin but because I know she and her future husband  need every penny of it and more, would have been one of a very few and will be missed even though the couple will never know they're missing it.  Matthew, though he was invited, will not attend. He doesn't find the same dark humor in such situations as I do, and he considers his time too valuable to waste on such a non-event. He will not send a gift separate from that my parents will give. He doesn't have the cash to spare, and if he did, giving it to the bridal couple is not the manner in which he would choose to spare it. He made a comment to my parents about his decline of the invitation to be an act of solidarity on my behalf.  I'm a bit skeptical of his claim, but I liked hearing it, just the same.

So my parents will attend the reception but not the wedding they've been deemed unworthy to attend because they drink a little coffee on occasional winter mornings,  consume alcohol (a little in my mom's case and a fair amount in my dad's),  and attend services at a church that is not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Those acts make them unworthy to enter the Temple of the Lord. Meanwhile, the bride's father has been convicted of grand theft,  (the size of the carton of disposable douches upped the charge from petty to grand theft [that must have been one humongous-sized crate of disposable douches]) but the church found a way to rationalize his actions. Even though he continues to pocket things that do not belong to him right and left, Mahonri, father of the bride, is worthy to enter the Temple of the Lord and participate in the holy ordinances that will lead to his daughter's sealing for time and all eternity to a man who looks like Mr. Potato Head with an Osmond's teeth. If a church can justify that, it unnerves me to think of the many other acts it must justify on a regular basis.


  1. Well, you certainly are familiar with LDS wedding receptions! The mints, nuts doled out in sacrament cups, flowers on the basketball hoops. They invite everyone in the stake to get as many gifts as possible. The tackiest invitation I received asked for people to bring food.

  2. I'm not sure why Mahonri didn't ask for food. Maybe someone in the stake leardership put a local ban on the practice if its to be held at a church facility, in which case Im surprised Mahonri didn't hold the reception in his weed-infested backyard.

  3. Also,once or twice a year our family is invited to a ward dinner. We haven't been inside our local ward meetinghouse ever, nor were we in one in Northern California. We've gone couple of times with pseudorelatives we like so my mom could play the piano for someone or dad could sing with someoneor something of that nature, but never to our own actual stake, much less our ward.

    Yet they send us thse handwritten invitations toth dinners, then add as a post-script, if your name begins with A-M, please bring a main dish. If it begins with N-Z, plese bring a salad and a dessert. Frist of all, wouldn't you think, since we'd never been in the meetinghouse a single time, it might be nice to allow us to be guests at just ONE ward dinner without requiring that we bring food? I wonder if they have a food marshal at the door checking to ensure that everyone brings what is required of him, her, or them. If we showed up a second time to a food event, then we might start to look like freeloaders if we came empty-handed, and it would be appropriate for us bring our due share. Secondly, they hand-wrote and addressed the damned invitations to us. They KNOW if our last name begins with A-M or N-Z. If they're going to insist that we bring food, they could just rely on their innate knowledge that our last name begins with "R" (I use a pseudo-surname, but my real surname also begins with "R"). If nothing else, they would save themselves a little writing.

    All the organization that goes into the disorganization is mind-boggling.

  4. I found this post because I own a little business that sells party mints and I have a talk walker alert set up to tell me when people might be talking about my product and the text of your post must have matched. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this and the welcome break it was for me today. You are an excellent writer, but I suppose you've been told that before. Very enjoyable and hysterically tragic or tragically hysterical. Best of everything to you!

  5. Thanks, Trixie. Actually, I love compliments because my family insists I write about three times as much as needs to be said about any given topic. I'm glad you stumbled upon the site almost by chance.

  6. LOL... I once got invited to a wedding in which everyone was expected to pay an admission charge of $10. I was in the Peace Corps at the time; the wedding was put on by a fellow volunteer (who invited everyone by flyer) and $10 was about two days pay.

    But yeah, that sounds like a very tacky wedding. I hope your parents and Matthew don't attend.

  7. I must agree with your points, Alexis. A wedding need not to be expansively glamorous or grand just to make it memorable. Other brides mostly do their own crafts for their wedding themes, which is rather less expensive than opting for a full wedding package.

    Dustin Maxwell