By Terry Sweeney
For newlywed couples throughout the ages, the sharing of wine at their nuptials has been the symbol of love, prosperity, good health and good fortune. In olden days, entwined like the vines themselves, couples often drank their wedding wine from one common cup … “the cup of love” … which symbolized both their newly forged intimate bond and the promise of the new life they would share together. Even Jesus turned water into wine as one of his first miracles at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee. No doubt that put him at the top of everyone’s guest list in that town. “Oh my God! Think of the money I’ll save,” must have cried the father of every bride in Galilee. And when you’re as nice a guy as Jesus, how do you say no? No wonder the poor guy hightailed it outta town!
Hey, wine for a wedding can set you back a pretty penny. Of course, you don’t have to follow tradition and toast each other with bubbly after you say “I Do.” There are other alternatives out there. In Korea, for example, after the wedding ceremony, friends of the groom take off his socks, tie a rope around his ankles and start beating the soles of his feet with dried yellow corvina. Yellow corvina is a kind of fish. Whacking his feet with this dead fish, Koreans say, makes the groom stronger for his wedding night. Oh really? Let me just say right now for the record that if you ever hear of me getting married down South, it won’t be South Korea! All I need is wine, wine and more wine at my wedding. I’ll skip the fish course, if you don’t mind.
But you know Koreans aren’t the only people with some unusual wedding wine rituals. At Russian weddings, once the reception has begun, a relative or a friend will make a wedding toast to the bride and groom after which, in keeping with Russian custom, everyone throws their champagne glasses on the floor. It is considered good luck if the glasses break when they hit the ground! OK, how much does that unnecessary nonsense add to the cost of your wedding? It wouldn’t surprise me if the Russian Mafia controls all the champagne glass outlets in the Soviet Union and that’s how they really made the rubles to buy up Beverly Hills!
Thank God for my simple Sicilian/Irish roots. Growing up, I went to countless Italian and Irish weddings. At a wedding my mother would instruct me in all the Sicilian superstitions surrounding the wine at the wedding. “Every time the bride spills a drop of wine on the tablecloth by accident, she loses an egg. If God forbid, she knocks over a bottle, she’ll never have kids … See that bridesmaid seated at the corner of the table drinking champagne: Cursed! She’ll never get married. A single girl should never sit at the corner at a wedding …And look! Just now when she toasted with that groomsman, their fingers touched! That’s it. She’s doomed to take lovers and be passed from man to man like a football!”
Luckily all this Italian hocus-pocus was balanced out by the Irish weddings I went to, which were just all out frenzied fun-filled boozy Bacchanalian blasts. At one I attended, both the bride and the groom passed out right in their seats and had to be dragged out to their limo!! Passed out cold and piled on top of each other in the back seat, I couldn’t help thinking what a compatible couple they were. “God made ‘em; God matched ‘em.”
At another, I happened to notice my 17 year old cousin surreptitiously chugging champagne out of a bottle he had stolen from the bar. The drunker he got, the meaner the looks he sent in the direction of his mother’s (the bride’s) new husband. Next thing I knew, after some pushing and shoving and name calling with his new stepfather, the two had kicked off their shoes and were karate chopping and drunkenly kung-fu kicking each other in the middle of the dance floor as the wobbly bride stood on a chair shrieking. When police arrived to break it up, and started handcuffing the two of them, the drunken bride jumped on one of the cop’s backs and started beating him on the head with her bouquet! Then all three were hauled off to the paddy wagon screaming and spitting — not a pretty sight! The big question at this Irish wedding became “Should we stay and keep drinking? Or go home?” What do you think the answer was?!
Hopefully none of these low-class shenanigans will take place at your classy wedding reception. My advice is to choose a champagne within your budget and a red and white wine that you can either drink by itself or enjoy with food. There are so many good value wines that are available now. I recommend cruising on over to Chateau de Costco or Sam’s Club and buying a dozen bottles or so; and having your own little taste test with a couple of members of your wedding party months before your nuptials. Ordering wine by the case at these venues can get you even more discounts. One more thing, order more champagne than you think you’re gonna need. Better to have left over bubbly than run out of it and watch your guests run out with it.
P.S. I’m available for wedding wine and champagne consultations but I’m not as cheap as I look!
By Terry Sweeney