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Long Island Weddings: Unveiling The Big Day

Tales of a wedding waitress, over-the-top requests and a look at wedding history on L.I.


Confessions of a Wedding Waitress
Think the bride has it bad? It’s nothing compared to the suffering endured by the wait staff on The Big Day


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I spent a little more than two years of my post-adolescence slaving away in a place that makes dreams come true—that is, the dreams of everyone except the people who work there.

Along a busy road in a small town on the exclusive North Shore lies a catering hall that hosts dozens of weddings a year. There are countless others like it on Long Island. Mine was no different than any of them, really, except it was the one in which I worked, the one in which I became more intimate with the weddings of Long Island than I ever would have imagined or wanted.

It all started with Hooters.

I was finishing my first year at Hofstra and I was broke. One afternoon on my way home from school, I passed a bustling Hooters, and a light bulb went off.

Problem solved!

Except it wasn’t. My mother had concerns, and she expressed them to me, informing me she would be less than thrilled to see her 18-year-old daughter in orange hot pants, hula-hooping on the side of Hempstead Turnpike as middle-aged men honked their horns and realized their sudden craving for hot wings.

So I gave up on that prospect and instead decided to please my mom by taking a serving job at a catering hall. Instead of the dark confines of Hooters, I found myself sweating in the hot July sun, serving heavy trays of chilled champagne and gazpacho shooters. And instead of neon hot pants, I found myself in a polyester tuxedo.

Oh, that tuxedo.

I had seen them before at various weddings and Bar Mitzvahs I had attended in the past—the stiff bow ties, the awkward-fitting jackets with missing buttons. I never thought that would be me. But there I was, at Men’s Warehouse, asking the tailor to cut a man’s tuxedo in half and stitch it back together so it could fit my 5-foot-3-inch frame. I never understood the logic behind tuxedos as uniforms, the idea that putting a teenage girl in men’s formal wear somehow translated into elegance. It was (and remains) beyond me. (As it happens, I still have the tuxedo. It sits in my basement as a relic of my past, as proof that my time there really happened. Also, if I ever decide to be James Bond for Halloween, I’m all set.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the first party I worked, the first time I broke out that tux and wore it as a professional. It wasn’t a wedding—it was just a small dinner, approximately 75 people. And it went off without a hitch. “Not so bad,” I thought to myself. “I can definitely handle this.”
My manager asked me what I thought of my new gig.

“That was easy,” I told him, as I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back.

He smiled at me. “Don’t get used to it,” he said as he walked away.

I can’t say he didn’t warn me.

The following weekend, as I worked my first wedding, I came to understand what I had gotten myself into: five managers shouting at bored, indifferent waiters in futile attempts to drown out the blaring DJ; a mess of hungry guests who looked like they would fight to the death for the first morsel of food thrown at them; and the obnoxious herds of men (and some women) who went wild on the open bar.

While I was coming to grips with the scenes unfolding before me, a guest at the wedding, a man, asked one of my coworkers—whom I did not yet know but who would eventually become one of my very good friends—for my phone number. I know now this sort of thing happens all the time, and it is never less than awkward.

“Uh, this guy wants your number,” my coworker told me.

I politely declined and ignored that table for the rest of the night.

I wish I could say the come-ons stopped there, but that would be lying. I recall one particularly horrifying incident when a man older than my grandfather grabbed my arm and politely asked if I had any Polish in me. Slightly confused, I answered, no, I did not have any Polish in me.

“Do you want some in you?” he asked, winking at me.

At least at Hooters I would have gotten better tips.

The only thing worse than the old men were the wedding singers, who you’d think would understand that (A) just because you are a singer does not make you inherently attractive to members of the opposite sex, and (B) being a wedding singer might actually make you slightly less attractive to members of the opposite sex.

But I guess they just can’t help themselves when they see a girl in a polyester tux.

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