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Sunday, August 16, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on being "the uncle of the bride" at the wedding of Leanna's niece.

Amy's wedding was at her parents' country house, in a big tent. About a hundred guests were there all afternoon, wandering around, chatting, waiting for the ceremony, listening to the music, enjoying the catered BBQ, and so forth.

Amy only had a few relatives there (parents, Leanna and myself, her brother and sister-in-law, three from her mother's family). Her parents were all kinds of busy (Susie with the food, Hank with getting the electrical system ready for the ceremony and the band) so I decided to get busy and help. I haven't been to that many weddings in my lifetime (two aunts, a few cousins, one friend) but I have seen enough reality television shows to know that there are things to be done. One of them is for some close relative of the bride to greet the guests, so I assigned myself that job because nobody else was doing it. It wasn't hard to do (actually, it was kind of fun). I just walked up to a guest (or small group of them) and said "Hello. I'm Amy's uncle, Steve. And you are?" After their answer, if they didn't keep the conversation going, I would fall back on "I'm an engineer. What do you do?" A few minutes chat with each guest and I felt comfortable with moving on. I even chatted with the caterers and musicians. Hank seemed pleased with my help because he was far busier with electrical issues than he had expected to be, and I really took a load off of him.

I found myself amazed at how much fun it all was. I had rarely done anything like that. (I'm usually a stay in the corner kind of guy, but I was forced to learn to chat with strangers at game conventions.) By all accounts, the guests felt good about a personal conversation with a close relative of the bride, and I even found a few people (including an engineer, an Army officer, and an electronics technician) that I could have seriously interesting conversations with.

When I got home, I wondered if "uncle of the bride" is actually "a thing" in the real world. It turns out that it is. Sometimes the uncle of the bride has to stand in for an absent father, or walk the younger daughter down the aisle if sisters are having a double wedding. Most often, however, the uncle of the bride is the primary assistant to the father of the bride, taking on some of his duties if the job is too time consuming. Depending on which job the father of the bride wants (greeting guests or behind-the-scenes logistics) the uncle of the bride (who might be the father of the bride's brother or brother-in-law) can reduce the stress by half and make the day enjoyable for everyone.

Besides, if I hadn't been greeting guests, I would have just been reading a book in the corner.