A July Wedding

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jul 19, 2009

Filed under: Personal 52 comments

My brother-in-law, with my new sister-in-law<sup>2</sup>.  I don’t want to talk too much about them here on my blog without permission, but I hope they’ll forgive me for revealing that they’re great people.  Too bad they live 1,000 miles away.  I love having great people around, but he works in the aerospace industry and we launch surprisingly few space shuttles here in Pennsylvania.
My brother-in-law, with my new sister-in-law2. I don’t want to talk too much about them here on my blog without permission, but I hope they’ll forgive me for revealing that they’re great people. Too bad they live 1,000 miles away. I love having great people around, but he works in the aerospace industry and we launch surprisingly few space shuttles here in Pennsylvania.
Question: If your brother-in-law gets married, is his new bride your sister-in-law, in-law?

Smashing wedding this weekend. Well, it was for those who got smashed, which was a very small minority. Which is good, because everyone had such fun and it would be a shame if nobody remembered it. It was an outdoor wedding, and it’s always a gamble to place that much of your wedding day in the capricious hands of mother nature. In this case it paid off. The weather was clear for the ceremony, which was full of weeping women and beaming men in equal measure, up to and including the bride and groom themselves. They said their vows with conviction, which is always encouraging. I mean, they’re vows. It’s always odd to hear adults pledge these mumbling oaths in the voice of a second grader trying to ramble their way through, “Pedge amegense to the flag”. None of that sissy crap here. These two were getting married, and they didn’t mind telling the folks in the back. Even if they knew already.

<em>Left: </em> My <a href="?p=3871">budding programmer</a>. <em>Right:</em> Me. The tie (because I <em>know</em> people will ask) is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animaniacs">Animaniacs</a>. The pocket watch was a gift from the groom at the <a href="?p=1338">previous wedding</a>.  It’s stamped with a personal message and the date: September 22.  I always love pointing out I’ve got a watch with Bilbo’s birthday on it.  (Well, Frodo’s too, but of course everyone just calls it Bilbo’s birthday.)
Left: My budding programmer. Right: Me. The tie (because I know people will ask) is Animaniacs. The pocket watch was a gift from the groom at the previous wedding. It’s stamped with a personal message and the date: September 22. I always love pointing out I’ve got a watch with Bilbo’s birthday on it. (Well, Frodo’s too, but of course everyone just calls it Bilbo’s birthday.)
After serving as best man twice and even being a groom once, I must say it was really nice to go to a wedding where I didn’t have any responsibilities besides dancing and eating. I’m always up for lots of both.

As soon as the ceremony ended the weather changed gears. Dark clouds rolled in and began raining on us with big splatty droplets that reached underneath umbrellas and awnings, threatening makeup and meticulously constructed hairstyles. The sun peeked out a few times during the shower, just to let us know this wasn’t going to go on all day. There wasn’t a rainbow, but that’s fine. It’s rude to upstage the bride on her big day. Moods brightened, then the weather.

If I ever find myself involved with the planning of another wedding (odds are good: I have two daughters) I will implore them to do what they did today and have the whole show at one location. It was about fifty exceptionally scenic meters from the ceremony to the pavilion where the reception was held. It wasn’t until today that I realized how asinine it is to have the two halves of the event in different locations. It’s just a lot of hassle to gather everyone up and drive someplace, and then have a cell phone drive to figure out who went home and who got lost. Today we just walked across the conservancy. Why don’t people do this more often? Members of the clergy can do their thing anywhere, and (for us theistic types) so can God. Seems daft to drag a couple hundred people into an unfamiliar church to fight with traffic, parking, and Google maps if they’re just going to have to do it all again an hour later.

As the reception began, the rain let up and left us with a lovely parting gift: Cool air. A half hour of rain was worth it to get rid of the July heat, which would have blunted our appetites and made dancing uncomfortable. It was sixty degrees, which is perfect. The sun came out, naturally.

There were only a half dozen kids but – due to the quantum nature of childhood – it felt like about fifty.
There were only a half dozen kids but – due to the quantum nature of childhood – it felt like about fifty.
After food was the dancing. This was a “no Hokey Pokey, no Chicken Dance” wedding. Controversial, but it’s a position I endorse. (As I said at the last wedding we attended when the Chicken Dance was played, “That’s just so… white people.”) Starting the dancing with Chicken Dance and Hokey Pokey is like starting Thanksgiving dinner with candy corn and circus peanuts.

I danced until my feet hurt, took a break, danced some more, and then hobbled around wondering how in the hell women do this in heels. Was shamed by this, and so danced some more. A silver-haired couple got out and reminded everyone that you never really forget how to dance, and their generation did it for years before they got around to having our parents.

The sun went down, the disco lights spun, and there was a full palette of music to suit people of all different walks of life, levels of dancing, and sobriety. Everything from Chubby Checker to Garth Brooks to Def Leppard to Sir Mixalot. You know, wedding music. The kids danced like giddy savages and ate like Hobbits. They darted in and out of the crowd, meeting each other and forging instantaneous friendships in a way that adults can only envy.

You know it’s a good wedding when the married folks sit together and run through the list of singles, deciding who needs to go next. Everyone went home happy, tired, and full. And a couple of them went home married. It was a good day all around.


From The Archives:

52 thoughts on “A July Wedding

  1. midget0nstilts says:

    Good for you, your brother-in-law and, er, your sister-in-law-in-law. Congratulations to the newly married couple from some guy on the Internet!

  2. Jenx says:

    Man if more weddings were like this here I might actually stop hating them and go on some, once in a while…

  3. pnf says:


    My best to the happy couple, regardless.

  4. Darla Dixon says:

    Who the heck wears a ANIMANIACS tie to a wedding?!? Seriously. That’s cool. I would have chosen a Mr. Bean tie for such a formal occasion.

  5. PM says:

    We attempted to have a “one location” wedding, at a botanical garden. Our priest said no problem, so we put down a deposit. Then…the Bishop said no way. My point is clergy can’t always perform a service anywhere.

  6. lebkin says:

    The single location for everything is a brilliant idea. I was amazed at how smoother it made my own wedding. Definitely something I wholeheartedly endorse if at all possible.

    Music is another thing that is very important to a wedding. Not just avoiding things like the chicken dance, but extreme offensive music like vulgar rap other end of the spectrum as well. Keeping the range of music focused improves the experience a lot.

    And then, of course, one must pay attention to volume. I absolutely hate weddings where the music is too loud to for easy conversation. I do not want to spend an evening yelling at everyone I talk to. So keep it at a reasonable volume. Those who love to dance won’t care if the music doesn’t break their eardrums, and those of us trying to have conversations will appreciate it.

    @PM: This may seem sacrilegious, but I would say “screw you” to that bishop. Its your wedding; do it how you want. If he won’t let you get married there, find someone who will. The world is full of decent folk who respect a couple’s right to plan their own wedding as they see fit and do not enforce pointless rules.

  7. Hzurr says:

    I’m getting married in January, and we’re also doing the “everything in a single location” thing. We weren’t too keen on it at first, but then we realized how easy it was going to make things, and that it meant we would only need to decorate one place instead of two.

    Also, congrats on having good in-laws. Every so often I think about some of the in-law horror stories I’ve heard, and remember how lucky I am that I’m getting good ones.

  8. Markus says:

    ++ on the single location. We did this almost two years ago, and also had the actual wedding outdoors with the feast and dancing indoors. We ALSO had the late summer shower to get rid of excess heat inside.

    BUT, people know how to behave and what to do in a traditional, dual-location wedding. This isn’t the case when it’s single location and especially when it’s outdoors and there are no convenient doors to head to. We solved the problem by thinking about all the things we wished to have and where people would have to be. My best-man was also a drill sergeant, in a way. (It helped he had military experience ;)

    In the end it really paid off because many people complimented us that it was really nice to always know what was happening next and that they were in the right place. Too often everyone who knows what should happen next just disappears, especially if there’s photo shoot between the church and the party as is the unfortunate custom here.

    phew. End wedding tips.

  9. Heather says:

    The other nice thing was it was a small wedding and the photos were mostly done BEFORE the wedding, eliminating the forever wait between.

  10. midget0nstilts says:

    I looked it up, and the spouse of your in-law is also an in-law. So, in other words, your brother-in-law’s wife is your sister-in-law.

  11. SteveDJ says:

    There is one other alternative to the single location: Just go off and elope! That’s what we did! It was a blast for just us two to make these secret plans, and then just jet off, unannounced, to Las Vegas for a few days (then to Disneyland). After we returned, we let our parents plan up a small reception in their home. And I don’t even need to mention the money saved… :)

    P.S. Shamus – I don’t think I’ve seen you post many (if any?) on a Sunday. But for a wedding… how appropriate. Congratulations!

  12. Lazlo says:

    My wife and I eloped and got married on board the Western Union in Key West. This has several advantages. First, it’s amazing how good a wedding party is made by fifty strangers who had no idea they were going to a wedding. Second, having a wedding venue that actually takes you to the reception, even if the people on board are friends and family, seems like a fantastic idea (of course, in our case, the reception was just “dinner for two”, but you get the idea)

    And music is very important. Having a reception that doesn’t include “Ringfinger” by Nine Inch Nails is just so wrong.

    But it sounds like a loverly wedding, and congratulations to your brother-in-law and your, erm…, his new wife. (I’m from the south – any relationship more complicated than brother/sister/mother/father/grandparent is referred to as “cousin”) Always remember, if marriage is outlawed, only outlaws will have in-laws.

  13. I grew up in Michigan – which must be the equivalent of being Canadian.

    What the heck is the “Chicken Dance”????


    PS Best wishes to the new couple. You look absolutely SMASHING, Shamus!

  14. Rutskarn says:

    Leslee: Oh god, you don’t want to know. It’s a hideous, Lovecraftian fusion of polka, spasms, and the worst kind of group dancing, all of which blend into something that’s not so much a dance as a national emergency.

    Also: best of wishes to the involved parties.

  15. I wish I could have DJ’d THAT reception. The one I DJ’d this weekend the requests I got consisted of Disturbed and Metallica. I’m like, “Do you people even know what’s going on here?”

  16. Neil says:

    Congrats to all parties!
    My sister got married in June, and the priest told her it had to be in a church, canon law. I guess it wouldn’t be Catholicism without rules!
    They didn’t wear shoes though. Not sure why, but I’m pretty sure canon law doesn’t cover that.

  17. Chuk says:

    Assuming the brother-in-law is your spouse’s brother, his wife is just your sister-in-law. Now, I call my in-law’s in-law’s my “in-law-in-law’s”, but I just now noticed that looks really dumb in print.

  18. Rutskarn says:

    @Leslee Part Deux: Here’s linkage.


    Try to retch onto a washable surface.

  19. Telas says:

    The chicken dance is a cultural event, brought to these shores by northern European immigrants.


    Don’t dis my culture!

    (Okay, it is a bit weird, but aren’t most ‘cultural events’?)

  20. Avaz ( [d20]Teldurn ) says:

    I thought your “in-law-in-law”s would be your “in-laws once removed”?

  21. HeadHunter says:

    Congratulations to the new couple!

    Thanks for a wonderful wedding blog, Shamus. My wife and I were just married last month (on the Summer Solstice) and we were wed at our local botanical gardens. We, too, wanted to have the reception at the same place but we had a limited number of days where the facilities would be available for both, and it was important to have the ceremony on a meaningful date. It was an indoor ceremony (though the outdoor garden was available had we so chosen) but there was so much greenery and flora that we didn’t need a bit of decoration.

    Our reception was in the casino building at a local park – both sites were chosen to allow us the feel of an outdoor event while protecting us from the whims of Buffalo’s famously unpredictable weather. It was a more low-key affair – dinner and mingling, the only dancing was a private moment after most of our guests had gone home. My bride and I selected all of the music so we didn’t have to worry about inappropriate or annoying music, and everyone had a good time. We were going to do some Rock Band afterwards but time ran short.

    If anyone’s interested in seeing the cake (with Rock Band figures as cake toppers), it’s HERE.

    Nice to see another happy couple and another successful and enjoyable celebration!

  22. Carra says:

    I thought that would be our “vogeltjesdans”. And i’m right!

    And euhm, isn’t the partner of your brother-in-law your sister?

    I’m attending a wedding next month and kind of dreading it. Shoo social occasions.

  23. Julian says:

    Congrats to your brother-in-law and sister-in-law-squared

    By the way… wasn’t your hair black? That’s what the EP banner would have lead me to believe. Now you it looks positively light red, which is DANGEROUS. Where I live, red hair is a harbinger of death, an omen of misfortune and a sign of the apocalypse. Seriously, we call redheads “mufa” and try not to get too close to them, lest the ceiling collapse due to the redness of their hair.

    Oh, and smashing tie.

  24. HeadHunter says:


    One’s brother-in-law’s partner is not always one’s sister.
    A brother-in-law need not only be the husband of a sister… he can instead be the brother of one’s wife.

    Considering Shamus’ explanation, I’m 100% certain that the latter is the correct relationship.

  25. Graham says:

    I always figured that the in-law-in-laws should be your out-laws!

    Best wishes to them!

    @Leslee –

    No, we Canucks are all too familiar with the Chicken Dance as well…

  26. LintMan says:

    To me, the hokey pokey is a kids song rather than a wedding song, but, personally, I like the chicken dance. Yeah, you feel ridiculous doing it, but so does everyone else, and it gets everyone laughing at the weddings where I’ve seen it done.

    @PM and Neil: Apparently for some reason the Catholic church insists weddings be held in a church, but I’ve been to one Catholic wedding held in a park: the priest was a relative of the bride and pulled some strings or did some creative explanations to get it approved.

    One fun wedding I went to where the ceremony and reception were at the same place had the bride and groom exiting the church, greated by people carrying giant (4′-8′) paper mache puppets on sticks and others playing “Linus and Lucy” (the Peanuts song) on flutes, trumpets and drums. The whole group proceded to accompany the bride and groom over and into to the reception hall, about 200′-300′ away. I stil laugh, thinking about it.

  27. Anachronist says:

    Yup, single location is best. We combined the ceremony and reception for ours, but chose a location across the ocean (Singapore) where my wife’s family mostly lived.

    It seems that couples over there separate ceremony and banquet, but the way they separate it seemed so un-romantic. You go to the Registry of Marriage with a small entourage as if you’re going to the DMV to take your driver’s license test. You take a number, and when it’s your turn, you go into a room, say your vows, and sign the documents. THEN you have your banquet, but nobody gets to eat the cake because it’s decorative — fake except for the top tier, which is for the happy couple.

    We wanted none of that.

    We learned that the Justice of the Peace is always happy to be invited to wedding banquets and perform the ceremonies there, so that’s what we decided to do. And we wanted a cake that everyone could eat.

    So we arranged a big wedding banquet and got married on the stage before dinner was served. We used the wedding march from Disney’s “Little Mermaid” because its length was perfect for our small banquet room.

    At the First Kiss, we played “Kiss the Girl” from the same movie, encouraging the audience to join in. The westerners did, but the Singaporeans are far too reserved for such wanton public displays, so they all just exhorted each other without actually doing it.

    1. Shamus says:

      Re: The Chicken Dance

      Someone else linked a version above, but I’ll do the same. Here is a tutorial for the dance:


      And this is what it looks and sounds like at a wedding:


  28. Kdansky says:

    Quaint. Congratulations to the couple.

  29. DaMunky89 says:

    I’m not a great fan of weddings, but this is a good post nonetheless. And you look awesome in a suit!

  30. Let me think: the last wedding I was at (Runs-with-explosives’s) had an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. Same location. _Very_ crowded, though, so while there was music, there was no dancing.

    Before that I was at a wedding where the ceremony and the reception were held on different days (and different locations).

    The groomsmen (*coughs* myself included) brought a bunch of nerf guns to the reception and the couple had a Traditional N. American Lightsaber Duel before their first dance. It was quite nice, in fact…

    Oh! and until today, I had never heard of the chicken dance…

  31. BlackJaw says:

    The old question of Inlaw-in-law annoyingly doesn’t have a technical term in English, at least not one I’ve been able to look up.

    I say annoying because it makes telling stories about them complicated, especially when it’s something like “Remember that time our Bartender Friend hooked up with his new sister in law at his brother’s wedding? No no no, his brother’s wife’s sister, not his brother’s wife.”

  32. Factoid says:

    Congrats to your brother-in-law. Just went to a wedding myself this weekend. My cousin’s. Having just been through my own a couple months ago it was quite nice to just go and enjoy myself.

    This wedding was a formal event. Lots of colored lights, classy decor, etc… My wedding was formal, but we did our best to keep the atmosphere fun and liquored-up. What I find strange is that this otherwise very formal and classy affair started with a chicken dance about 5 minutes into the dancing when we absolutely forbade it at ours.

  33. Rutskarn says:

    Shamus–did we really need a double dose of that? Even through the protective screen of a link, that stuff can leak radorkation that horribly warps your children, making them do things like wear plaid, use pocket protectors, and play Dungeons and Dragons.

  34. toasty says:

    I think at my wedding someone should attempt karaoke TO DEATH METAL! B)

    No seriously… I hate dancing. Really, I do. Well I should probably say I’m just far to serious sometimes and it takes me to get into a certain, relaxed mood to do certain silly things; I’m rarely in those moods when surrounded by loads of people, especially if I only know half of them.

    And yes, the best wedding I went to was at one location only (the church was Catholic, but they had this building across from the Church that we used for the reception). That wedding (my cousin’s) was epic. There was chocolate fondue and candles (NOTE: never put a candle on a table with a bunch of teenagers: they will find a way to light sticks on fire and laugh. I swear, every single one of my uncles (I have 9) told us to stop in one way or another. Including a very scary head nodding from the USAF Major. :D)

    Oh, and another thing: have a proper meal. Not some wimpy semi-snack/meal thing. I want FOOD! And not some super-expensive stuff that doesn’t fill me up. BBQ is enough for me.

    Edit: If my brother in-law (I don’t have one; yet) ever gets married I suppose I’d call his wife my sister-in-law by marriage or something like that. Its probably a bit unnecessary (sister-in-law should work) but I think it’d be fun to call someone that. :D

  35. Logicaly_Random says:

    @ Michael Huxley: What’s wrong with metal at a wedding? Come to think of it, a wedding turned mosh pit would be awesome.

  36. BK says:

    @ Shamus: Is it worse to have the Chicken Dance at a wedding? Or at your workplace EVERY DAMN Monday? I work at an Acme…and we have “Cheap Chicken” (ie, punt the leftovers before they go bad) Mondays.

    @ Logicaly_Random: Ever seen Reprise? The wedding scene at the end features some Norwegian punk.

  37. Cuthalion says:

    Congrats to the happy couple!

    This is your wife’s brother’s new wife we’re talking about? Yeah, that’s a linguistic predicament that my relatives are doomed to have, either if I marry into a large family (quite likely, since the conservative churchgoers I’d be likely to marry have a high proportion of large families) or if someone marries into mine, since I have 4 siblings. Probably both.

    Edit: Also, nice suit, but the part I’m most envious of is the pocketwatch.

  38. maehara says:

    I concur on the single location thing. We had ours in one very scenic spot, and replacing the en masse relocation with an extra hour of lounging in the sun pre-meal made for a far more relaxing day. Well, as relaxing as a day can be when you’re the groom.

  39. nilus says:

    I am pretty sure my Polish Grandmother would not recognize my marriage as valid without the Chicken Dance and at least one Polka played at the reception. And my Pakistani wives family wouldn’t call it legal without a little Bangra(including a choreographed dance number put together by my brother and sister-in-law). It was a crazy fun wedding.

    Personally I find people that forbade the Chicken dance and the Hokey pokey at wedding to be way to cool for themselves. I was at a wedding this summer where they forbade basically any good music. The bride was so up tight that she only wanted slow music to play. The dance floor was almost always empty. Of course it was also not an open bar, so that wedding had two strikes against it already. I’m not a drunk but I think its in bad taste to make your guests buy drinks.

  40. Kristin says:

    Being Catholic and never having heard of the requirement of a marriage being held in a church, I googled Canon law.

    My mom is Catholic, my dad isn’t and refused to convert. He also demanded certain revisions to the wedding ceremony (the one I know of specifically is that he told the priest that if the rings were blessed, he was going to walk out the door) and yet the wedding happened and they are married in the eyes of the Church. Therefore, I was pretty sure that any requirement of being held in the church itself could be waived too.

    And, yep.

    “Can. 1118 §1. A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church. It can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor.
    §2. The local ordinary can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.
    §3. A marriage between a Catholic party and a non-baptized party can be celebrated in a church or in another suitable place.”
    – from the Canon Laws.

    I can’t think of ANY wedding I’ve been to where they played the Chicken Dance or the Hokey Pokey… admittedly it’s been a grand total of 3 and a half, 2 of which were Church of Christ (no dancing at all).

  41. squishydish says:

    How lovely to hear about such a purely happy celebration. Thank you for sharing with us.
    As for the labeling, I would simply call her a sister-in-law, which is enough to indicate a relationship through law rather than blood. If anyone needs to know how close that legal relationship is, you can explain it then.

  42. RTBones says:

    Many happy congratulations to the happy couple! Thanks for sharing the story.

  43. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Thanks for posting this, Shamus. I, too, was privileged to attend a wedding this weekend, for a couple I don’t know (friends of a friend). We had a great time. I agree that it is much better not having any responsibility (other than not being the drunk who ruined it for others) and the single location is fantastic, other than the need for people to find things to do for (in our case) 3 hours (we went to see Transformers). I wore a Taz tie to the wedding – the Taz was low enough that with my jacket buttoned it was just a red tie.
    By the way, love the pic of you and your little one. She’s a little cutie. It will be a large number of years (cross your fingers) but you will definitely be The Father Of The Bride one day. :) Enjoy!

  44. LexIcon says:

    Shamus, you have managed to look exceedingly classy in your wedding attire. I would even go so far as to call it “snazzy”.

    On the downside, you have now exposed your blog to the ravages of all the wedding-obsessed harpies on the internet. With any luck you won’t show up on their marital google searches, and we can escape their nightmarish drivel.

  45. EL Quia says:

    I think that catholics can’t do a wedding service outside a consecrated ground (meaning church in this context, I think). I heard their justification for that but I forgot it.

    And there are good weddings as there are bad weddings. As a recently married man (this wednesday it’s 3 months :p) I can say that weddings can be tiresome to organize, but great to enjoy (although you will not be able to rest not one minute :D)

  46. smIsle says:

    I had this same conversation with my future sister-in-law a couple days ago. The funniest solution we came up with was sister-in-law-law. Make sure to say it out loud if you don’t get it.

  47. Leon says:

    Surprised that I’m the first to comment on this: in that picture, you look like Penn Jillette. (No offense.)

  48. Shamus says:

    Penn, eh? Yeah, I can see that.

    That’s cool. (I’m a fan.)

  49. David V.S. says:

    Regarding “That's just so… white people.”

    This may be even more “white people”, although much more entertaining than the Chicken Dance.

    1. Shamus says:

      David: That was unqualified awesome. I’m still grinning.

  50. Jennifer says:

    They didn’t do the chicken dance at the last wedding I attended, but they did do the Electric Slide.

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