So I just got back from my friend’s wedding social. For those of you not from Manitoba, a wedding social is this thing we do here. A recent engaged couple will rent a hall a few months before their wedding and sell tickets to friends and family. Tickets usually cost $10 each and the money goes towards the couple to help pay for the wedding, etc. Quite often you’ll go to a social even if you aren’t invited to the wedding. Heck, I’ve been to socials where I didn’t even know the couple. I’ve been to enough of these things over the years to notice some hallmarks and patterns.
1. The Location
You’ll usually want to rent out a community club. Some people get fancy and rent hotel banquet halls or get creative and rent out a restaurant, bar or theatre. But the traditionalists will stick to community clubs, preferably ones that have ice rinks out back.
2. The Music
There are certain songs that always seem to get played at socials, like “Old Time Rock and Roll” and “Strokin” I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Sometimes the couple will have a “First Dance” as if it were their actual wedding, and sometimes not. You can often identify the couple because they will both probably be wearing corsages are the only ones who look happy. Whatever you do, you do not want to arrive too early to one of these things. They usually start at 8 pm, but if you arrive at 8 you would be forgiven if you thought you had arrived at the wrong spot. Although the music starts right on time, the community club florescent lights are usually still on and you’ll end up hanging out with somebody’s grandma. Of course if you are in the wedding party or are in the actual couple you should be there on time or even a little bit early to help with the set up, but for regular attenders, the sweet spot is somewhere between 9 and 10 edging closer to 10.
3. The Food
Tradition demands that pretzels and salt and vinegar (preferably Old Dutch) chips are put out on styrofoam plates. No more than one plate per item per table, and for GOD SAKES do not ever put pretzels and chips on the same plate. Some people get fancy and try to do some weird origami shit with the chip boxes, but you really should just stick with the styrofoam. Paper plates, although environmentally friendlier, are frowned upon.
A precisely 11 pm the “social food” proper is put out. The pretzels and chips are just precursors to the real deal. Usually no announcement is made, but rather one notices the line forming and you better get in it before it gets too long. Multiple trips through the line are allowed, but you’re better off loading a plate once in case the food runs out. I’ve been to socials where they’ve just ordered pizzas (easy but ultimately lazy), and I’ve been to socials (particularly ones where one or both members of the couple are not originally from this country) where the family provides an amazing spread of home-made food. This is not expected nor even desired. The traditional social food must be cold cuts, of which at least one kind must be kolbasa. There should be rye bread. If you provide mustard and butter (not essential) you must make sure you DO NOT provide knives for spreading said mustard or butter. Rather, the social guests must find creative ways of getting these things onto their rye bread. HANDS ARE ALLOWED, and in fact encouraged. Dill pickles should be present, and should be quarter sliced. The cheese MUST be cut into cubes, not flat slices, so that if you are ass enough to try to make an actual sandwich out of the social meats, you’ll look like a regular doofus. The goal is not to make a proper sandwich, but to pile as much meat and cubed cheese onto a piece of rye bread as possible and make your way back to your table in time for the PRIZE DRAW.
4. The Prizes
In addition to raising money from liquor and ticket sales, social goers are encouraged to buy raffle tickets. These tickets can be placed in little paper bags in front of each prize pack. This is called either by the inaccurate term “Silent auction” or the racially insensitive “Chinese auction”. I prefer the Chinese, but then again who doesn’t? Typically you will have anywhere from 5 to 20 prize packs to choose from. Invariably one will be called “the Golfer’s pack” which will include golf balls and perhaps a hat. One prize at every social must include a DVD copy of “Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa”. Hey, I don’t make the rules. It is generally agreed that most of the prizes are total crap, and yet you feel like you must compliment the hosts on their prizes and feel strangely compelled to buy tickets. In addition to the Chinese auction prizes, there is often a thing where you can buy an “arm’s length” of tickets for a bottle of liquor. The origins of the “arm’s length” goes back to Biblical times when it was in fact a “cubit” of tickets. Due to our liquor laws, you can’t actually resell liquor like that, so they cutely refer to it as “perfume” and the winner has to go out to some uncle’s car in the parking and get their bottle. Or actually sometimes it’s just a gift certificate to the liquor store, but I like the idea of seeing the inside of some uncle’s trunk, actually. These draws can happen any time after the food is served up to BUT NOT PAST midnight. This is clearly stated on page 217 of the Presbyterian Common Book of Prayer and must be adhered to or the money from the raffle prizes is forfeit. The actual drawing of the prizes is usually done by either the bride or the groom or a combo of both. This usually takes a ridiculously long time, as every prize needs to be called and then recalled because people couldn’t hear or because the groom is mumbling because he’s drunk. Do not be surprised if the prize drawing takes up to 45 minutes. With everyone preoccupied with their tickets, this is a golden opportunity to hit the snack table again.
5. The Wrap Up
After the food is served and the prizes are drawn, there is no reason for anyone to stay. Although the thing usually runs til 1 am, you’d be an out and out fool if you were still there at closing time, unless you were on clean up duty or were in fact the potential bride and/or groom.
What do you think, fanbase and other Weakerthanians? Did I miss anything? Anything to add?