A Big Wedding Wasn’t So Bad After All

The newlyweds, Erin and Raymond LaFleur. Sheena Marie Photography photo

The newlyweds, Erin and Raymond LaFleur. Sheena Marie Photography photo

I’ve never been a fan of big weddings: the astronomically expensive wedding gown, the tossing of bridal bouquet and garter, the slicing and smashing of wedding cake, the clinking of glasses to induce bride and groom to kiss.

Oooooh! What goo.

Then there are speeches about bride and groom, lame jokes by the master of ceremonies, insipid toasts, and … omigod, the budget-busting expense of it all!

As a young man, as soon as all such nonsense began, I excused myself and headed for the men’s room or for an inspection of the 18th hole of the adjacent golf course.

A couple of generations ago, my wife-to-be offered me the most romantic of proposals. “Fish or cut bait,” said she. “I’ll spare you the big wedding, but it’s now or I’m going fishing in other waters.”

So I said, “Uhhh, er, OK,” and a few days later the high-strung Filipina and I drove down to Aliiolani Hale where, with two of his clerks as witnesses, Circuit Judge Allen Hawkins married us.

That was 43 years ago, and I’ve preached the doctrine of no big weddings ever since. If anything beyond the judge in his chambers is necessary, how about a potluck wedding reception? Mom’ll make her guisantes, buckets of it, if necessary, and I my broke-da-mout’ chicken adobo.

What caterer can beat a dozen cans of Aunty Pat’s lasagna? Of course, it does-n’t matter what Aunty Kamaile brings — whatevah, it will be good. And who needs a three-tiered cake when Aunty Cathy can produce sheet pan upon sheet pan of her delicious chocolate-chip cookies?

Aunty Jane and cousin Keoni can choose the wine (from a list of $5.95 reds and whites I will provide them).

Need I say that none of the brides in our extended ohana took my advice? Instead, they smiled politely at Uncle Dan and had their big weddings. And when our only daughter, Erin Miyhe Michie, and her swain became betrothed, she listened once again to my proposal of a potluck wedding.

“Daddy,” she said emphatically, “I want a wedding. I’ve always dreamed of a beautiful wedding.”

Erin got it, on the glorious Fourth of July, on the grounds of Hale Koa Hotel. She was a beautiful bride on a late, trade wind-cooled summer afternoon. Two adorable flower girls led her to her groom, Capt. Raymond LaFleur, USMC.

He wore his dress blues, and was attended by three fellow Marines in theirs.

Erin stood with two gorgeous bridesmaids and a bridesman, a classmate and friend from small-kid time.

The Rev. Dr. Edward Shultz, a distinguished Korean scholar, performed the ceremony. He flew in from Seoul for the occasion. He’s not a mainline minister, but he’s descended from five generations of Episcopal priests and holds credentials from some matchbook-cover church that he purchased for a couple of bucks. Erin and Ray were his second couple.

Erin’s well-planned wedding experienced a glitch (as all do, I’m told). Someone forgot the ring for the groom. Realized moments before it was needed, the bridesman took off like a bat out of you-know-where and returned just in time, near death, but with the ring.

Wed, the LaFleurs marched out between a detail of six sword-bearing Marines that included Ray’s father and brother. Impressive, that.

Chicken adobo couldn’t be found at the reception, but the buffet tables were laden. Glasses clinked. The couple kissed. Libations flowed.

As emcee, the bride’s brother Peter kept ’em laughing. Uncle Jerry, a retired dentist but the son of a Buddhist priest, gave a banzai toast for the ages. There was much dancing and laughter and love.

The father of the bride enjoyed every gooey minute of it.