A Cultish Wedding

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted their crazy, bizarre, tragic, and wacky wedding stories. I had a lot of laughs and you can, too, because I’ll be posting some of the best stories through the rest of the week. I’m pleased to announce that the lucky winner of the Pride & Prejudice Salon Tea prize pack is Rondi of Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose. Her tale of being a guest at a cultish, pop psychology wedding made me giggle even as it made me gasp. Enjoy!

Note: For those who don’t know, the Forum is a self-described “group awareness program” that many suspect may be a cult in disguise.

A few years ago I attended the wedding of two acquaintances who, at the time, I considered friends. Both bride and groom were true believers of “The Forum,” that scary 1970s Erhard Seminars Training personal development thing repackaged in time to take advantage of all the money and time late boomers and early Gen-Xers apparently have to waste. The wedding was held shortly – and I mean shortly, as in hours – before Christmas Day, because, you know, people have so much leisure time in late December.

The wedding was held in someone�s home. The idea was that we would socialize for a couple of hours, “witness” the ceremony, and then have dinner. After two hours of socializing (sans alcohol!) with mostly true believers (cultish, freakish, Forum-types) with whom it is near impossible for normal humans to carry on a conversation, the ceremony began. Thank goodness, I thought! This will be nice.

We were all asked to stand in a circle around the bride and groom. Fair enough, I thought. I�ve been to Greek weddings where you have to stand for HOURS, so I could handle this. Except, at a Greek wedding, you never hear the following from the priest: “Now, the bride and groom will place their rings on a pillow. The pillow will be passed around the room to each person, who, as they hold it, will say a few words about the bride and groom and this joyous occasion.” Whaaaaa????? If you�re going to spring this kind of thing on people, I thought, you really ought to let them drink first.

The torture began – mostly Forum drivel and sappy talk. Then, one of the grooms exes took the pillow and talked at length about all the girls the groom had slept with prior to meeting his bride. Lovely. I�m sure the happy couple, as well as the bride�s father, enjoyed hearing that. In fact, I was standing next to the FOtB, who visibly cringed as he listened. When the pillow got to me, I thought I�d add some levity to the situation and say what many were surely thinking: “I think it�s very unfair to ask anyone to speak publicly before you�ve allowed them access to hard liquor!”

Lots of laughter, and the bride�s father, when his turn came next, said, “Thanks to Rondi for taking the words right out of my mouth.”

When the ceremony was over, the bride�s father took me aside and thanked me! But then I was taken aside by a Forum-ite who chastised me for “taking away from everyone else�s joy.” Wow! Am I ever powerful, I thought. Wine and dinner were FINALLY served and the next round of horrors began. As I took my plate of food and glass of wine and went on a quest for a seat, I found they were all taken. And there were no more. I approached the bride, who informed me that her husband thought it would be a good idea to not have enough seats for people at dinner, as, according to his brilliant logic, this would force people to mingle. I. AM. NOT. MAKING. THIS. UP. Needless to say, all the lack of seats did was force people to sit on the ground with their plate of food, feeling grouchy and slighted.

After dinner, we went on a…sleigh ride. Now, in theory this is a lovely idea, especially just before Christmas, with snow falling, et cetera. I thought, what the heck, and sat down on the sleigh next to the one other normal (i.e. non-Forum) person in attendance. We chatted pleasantly until I realized that the wife of the man who had accused me of being a joy-destroyer had taken it upon herself to sit behind me and repeat out loud everything I was saying, a la Grade Three. As in, I�d say, “I have a French degree from the Sorbonne,” and the Forum lady would shout out in a mocking, sing-song tone, “I have a French degree from the Sorbonne.”

Unbelievable but true. I didn�t see this group again until the couple had a baby and held a shower. That torturous evening in itself is worth a personal essay but let�s just say that the high point was when the former bride, with a gleeful smile on her face, referring to a man who had just dumped me, said: “Do you think he didn�t want to get married…or do you think he just didn�t want to marry *you*?”

Congrats Rondi!

18 Responses to “A Cultish Wedding”

  1. Twistie February 28, 2006 at 1:27 pm #

    Wow. That’s…just wow. I thought I’d been to a couple odd weddings, but this definitely takes the cake!

    And isn’t it amazing that someone who accuses you of destroying everyone’s evening with an off-hand, one-line joke then has the time and energy to spend the entire evening mocking you?

    Rondi, please tell me you don’t have anything to do with these people anymore. Life’s just plain too short.

  2. Carol February 28, 2006 at 2:14 pm #

    I have to say: I wouldn’t have gone to the baby shower.

    And I wouldn’t have sent a gift, either.

  3. Rondi February 28, 2006 at 2:31 pm #

    Twistie: Don’t worry. Those people are part of my past. Yay!
    Carol: You’re right. I made a mistake to attend the baby shower! But that was the last I’ve seen of any of ‘em!

  4. Lori February 28, 2006 at 3:59 pm #

    Do you think he didnt want to get marriedor do you think he just didnt want to marry *you*?

    That sounds like a good time to use my best friend’s favorite new phrase: “I’m sorry, but I don’t discuss that.”

  5. Never teh Bride February 28, 2006 at 4:19 pm #

    Ooh, good answer, Lori. I’ve been asked that once or twice and that’s precisely how I should have answered. People are awfully open about prying into other people’s personal affairs. Like, if you didn’t get your mortage approved, I wouldn’t go asking about the nitty gritty, now would I?

  6. Anna February 28, 2006 at 4:38 pm #

    Hilarious. I am glad it didn’t happen to me, though!

  7. Rondi February 28, 2006 at 8:12 pm #

    Lori, Your comeback is great. What’s worse was, at the time, I had just got dumped, and really did not need to hear that my ex, rather than simply being commitmentphobic, probably just didn’t want to marry *me.* I guess the Forum doesn’t teach sensitivity…

  8. Twistie February 28, 2006 at 10:36 pm #

    I think the Forum teaches that others need to be sensitive to them, but that they have no obligation to be sensitive back. Hence the snotty six-year-old parroting incident and the annoying assertion that your ex couldn’t possibly want to marry *you*.

    I can see this group being very popular with people who never matured beyond the emotional age of twelve. Sheesh! You’re well rid of these people, Rondi. And hey, now you get a nifty prize for having gone through the experience! There really is a silver lining, isn’t there? ; )

  9. jenny March 1, 2006 at 1:36 am #

    You have a strong constitution, Rondi. I’m absolutely sure that I would have faked illness and left immediately after having had to stand in the circle. (Actually, I have a very convenient chronic illness that I reserve for just such painful social situations.)
    You deserve every inch of what you won: you earned it.

  10. Carol March 1, 2006 at 10:37 am #

    A friend of mine always counters intrusive or snotty personal comments by saying “Why, Mary, what on earth would possess you to ask me such a thing?!” Usually shuts ‘em right up.

  11. Lori March 1, 2006 at 1:19 pm #

    I’m afraid I cannot take credit for the line, “I’m sorry, but I don’t discuss that.” That is from Judith Martin’s “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.”

    I loaned this book to my best friend, who used said line, without giving offense, on a customer who asked about her wages & commission. The nosy questions went unanswered, and neither of them got upset.

  12. La BellaDonna March 1, 2006 at 2:13 pm #

    Holy Mary, Mother of God. This was supposed to be a friend of yours? Rhondi, I present to you, as a personal gift, in the event, heaven forfend, you should ever need to use it:

    Do you think he didnt want to get marriedor do you think he just didnt want to marry *you*?

    RESPONSE:
    “Well, he heard I was friends with you, and that killed the possibility.”

    *ladies, feel free to modify and apply as needed.

  13. Julia March 2, 2006 at 3:10 am #

    Dude. I fully want to hear the personal essay about the baby shower.

  14. Riona March 2, 2006 at 2:52 pm #

    The Forum is DREADFUL. I’ve lost friends to it, and so have other people I know.

  15. Rondi March 2, 2006 at 3:08 pm #

    Riona, that’s good to know! I was thinking I was “too sensitive.” It’s like they’re speaking their own language. What amazes me is, people pay a fortune for it.
    Ladies: I got my winnings just now! Thanks to Never teh Bride: It’s all lovely. And man, Fedex is impressive! I’m in Canada and got my stuff a mere 48 hours after learning I had won.

  16. Never teh Bride March 13, 2006 at 2:44 pm #

    Yay, Rondi! I’m glad to hear it!

  17. Danielle March 17, 2006 at 5:33 pm #

    I gasped through the entire thing!

    I worked as a photographer’s assistant for 2 years, and I’ve been to some pretty *scary* weddings, but that really takes the cake.

  18. Danielle March 17, 2006 at 5:34 pm #

    Oh… and I completely want to hear about the baby shower as well!