The wife and I separated a little more than a decade ago, after having endured four years of a long-distance setup. But I think it wasn't really the physical absence that doomed us. What ultimately drove a wedge between us was my sustained inability to compliment what she did or send her roses just because. My inability to heed James Ingram's advice, in other words.
My shortcomings as a lover were on full display on our wedding day, when I felt I was too cool for tradition. I insisted that we wear casual clothes throughout the ceremony (I put on jeans, and only because I couldn't find a pair of shorts that wouldn't horrify our guests); I refused to get wedding rings (I demanded necklaces instead); and perhaps most tellingly, I shunned the elegant bridal car (I borrowed a first-generation CR-V from Honda, which I personally drove to the venue). I now look back in amazement at how my bride didn't call off the wedding--I had practically shown every sign imaginable that I was going to be the lousiest husband in the history of husbands.
I had steadfastly believed that lavish nuptials were illogical and impractical. I had always been convinced that the success of a marriage had absolutely nothing to do with the grandness of the wedding--that the expenses usually incurred by those tying the knot could be more wisely earmarked for more important things. I even have a theory now, which is that the main reason many marriages fail is that it's virtually impossible to live up to the artificial frills of an elaborate wedding.
I mean, the two of you will have to wake up every single day to reality. There won't be friends to clink glasses and coax a kiss out of you. No projector to show you photographic reminders of why you fell in love with each other in the first place. No string quartet to serenade your every move. No pastor or priest to admonish you when you quarrel. No intricately sculpted cake to help create the illusion that married life is bliss. And no gleaming luxury sedan waiting for you when you step out the door.
Ah, the bridal car. The illogical and impractical bridal car. I don't really understand the need to rent one just for the uneventful commute from the house/hotel to the church and then to the reception. Do you know what the going rates these days are? A Vios or a City goes for P4,000. An Elantra or an Altis is a little more expensive at P5,000. A Camry or a Sonata costs P6,500. And a Chrysler 300C commands P9,500. You can only guess how much a Lexus, a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW would set you back for half a day of romantic joyride. Just for a chance to arrive in style and impress a crowd that is fully aware the car isn't yours (and perhaps to take glamorous photos for Instagram).
Last month, I was invited to the wedding of a family friend. Not wanting my friend (the groom) to spend on a bridal car, I offered to bring one and even to chauffeur for him. I didn't tell him what car I was producing, although I was sure he would have been perfectly happy with an Accord or a Teana. Fortunately for my friend, I was in the mood to atone for all the transgressions I had committed on my own wedding day. So I brought a traffic-parting white Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I also wore linen barong and leather shoes. Had I been this decorous at my own wedding, I'd probably still be hitched today.
I wasn't able to arrange for flowers to be attached to the car's grille, but at least the couple's names were printed on the vanity plate. I could see that this pleased my friend's ecstatic bride more than the fact that she was about to be whisked to the church in a P9-million car.
On the way to the church, the bride's parents were visibly impressed by the opulent cocoon of the S-Class. I took it as my cue to push a button to raise the rear window blind, just to further show them how special their daughter's bridal car was--and how my friend had "made" it all possible. Maybe someday the memory of this will stand my friend in good stead. Like when he forgets Valentine's Day, for instance.
I stayed through the entire church ceremony and the reception. I played my chauffeur role to the hilt. I even drove the newlyweds from Quezon City to a hotel in Manila. As we crawled in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I tried to think of a valid reason to justify the use of expensive bridal cars. I couldn't even concoct one.
And then I caught a glimpse of the bride in the rear-view mirror. She had a smile not even P9 million could buy. It was the kind of smile that could only be induced by the knowledge that she had someone in her life who wouldn't think twice about doing illogical and impractical things for her--just because.
It was the kind of smile that indicated she'd find a hundred ways to pay her husband the sweetest of debts.