Impressions of a trip to New York: A Flashmob Wedding

The wedding festivities started a day early for us. We had been invited to a henna and games party the day before; it was an opportunity for families to mingle, for out of town guests to meet each other and/or give warm hugs to old friends. And play games. 🙂

Honey and I got settled in, playing many of the games that were available. We made some lovely new friends, too, as we told short stories during Dixit, traded oil for rice in Pit, and decided whether garbage bags were invented before or after the photocopier in Timeline. (After. Who knew?) Sadly, we couldn’t bring Honey’s game that’s about to be published, but that’s because Honey left his last copy with the publisher on the day he signed. Oh, well.

As the games wound down and people departed with small children, we realized one of the brides, Justice, had gone suspiciously silent. It turned out, she had let all the other people get henna before her, and she and her artist friend were now working furiously to finish up her hands before the next round of activities. They came out beautifully. I wish I had taken a picture of them.

By this time, it was almost 9:00 pm. Next up was karaoke, but before we could go there, Honey and I had to make a pit stop for dinner, since there was very little food I could eat at the henna and games party. I used my awesome app, Find Me Gluten Free, and we zoomed over to a restaurant, Market Cafe (on 9th Ave), I believe whose owner has Celiac’s. I love these places where someone involved in the restaurant Knows what gluten free really means, because the menu was essentially wide open to me. I was even able to get bread pudding for dessert. Bread pudding, y’all.

After dinner, we hustled to the karaoke bar, and found the private room set aside for the wedding party. We joined in on a rousing chorus of My Girl, and then Toy, the other bride, announced that it was very late, and they had to get some sleep because tomorrow they were going to a protest against police brutality and then, you know, getting married. (Yes, seriously.)

The next morning, Honey and I decided to scope out the subway station where the flashmob wedding would be. You see, the ceremony wasn’t permitted, so we couldn’t stay for long. It’s a good thing we checked, too, because it wasn’t a huge subway station, but it was no hole in the ground either. Following our trend for this entire trip, we started our mission at the farthest end of the station from where we needed to be. The signs pointed us most of the way, and we were able to figure out where we were supposed to Not Gather, and then got out, before we looked too suspicious.

Next stop was the original Babycakes NYC, which was surprisingly close to the subway station. We grabbed some GF cupcakes for myself and a couple of other guests with dietary restrictions, and then hustled over to a nice, little Italian place for some GF pizza. It was not “New York pizza,” as I had hoped, but it was good enough to eat– and the restaurant was warm enough that we lingered a little, rather than taking in the sights out in the cold.

We probably should have lingered longer, but thanks to some understanding clerks at CVS and REI, we were able to keep warm until 10 minutes before the ceremony.

I don’t know what I expected; I suppose a bunch of faces I had recognized, calmly loitering in groups of two and three, wandering, strolling– no shopping, though. There weren’t any shops in this station. Instead, we got downstairs to discover a small mob gathered just inside the gates. Justice’s mother and another family member were setting up a TV tray festooned with incense and marigolds. Ladies in brightly colored dresses were holding sticks laden with fragrant flowers. And the rest of us were told not to stand too close, but don’t block the exit for subway travelers to get out in the back. It was a bit of a crush, but all of us were joyous, and there were just waves of love for the happy couple flowing freely in the space.

They tucked themselves downstairs for a little calm before the storm, and so that they could make a grand entrance coming up the escalator. The officiant (I think a relative of Justice?) checked his mike so that everyone could hear, and then one of the bridesmaids hustled over. “You guys! We have to get started. The MTA is starting to ask questions about why we’re here.” Justice’s sister slipped downstairs to get our two brides before we got kicked out. Meanwhile, Honey looked up and made eye contact with a couple of cops. They stared him down for a moment… and then rolled their eyes and walked away. New York’s Finest had given us their silent blessing to continue.

First we heard the conch shell. The escalator floated our two brides up, and there they were, in all their glory. Don’t they look magnificent?

Photo by Tricia Baron
Photo by Tricia Baron

Together, they took the Hindu Seven Steps into marriage, and received blessings from both sets of parents. The officiant announced the first half of the ceremony was done– and not only did our little crowd hoot and cheer, but so did all the passersby who had stopped to help witness. Ahh, New Yorkers can be such a sentimental bunch. We passed around something yellow, mushy, and Indian, which is good luck to eat at a wedding– Honey had my share– and with much hugging and chattering, we all boarded the L train (well, there were so many of us, we actually had to go on two separate trains) to Brooklyn to finish the ceremony.

The reception hall was festooned with lights, the music was pumping, and there were snacks and tidbits on every table. I was even able to find a few things that I could munch on. Honey and I were lucky enough to know a couple of people–who like games, no less–from the day before, so we settled down to teach one of our new friends No Good Gremlins (one of my favorites!).

Eventually, once everyone had hugged and congratulated both brides, we had the second half of the ceremony, which included rings, I Dos (from Justice, Toy, and the rest of us–their community–to be supportive of them), and an announcement that Bingo would soon follow. It did. We all played Bingo. And there was much rejoicing and eating of cupcakes.

I’m fairly certain the party went deep into the night, but by the end of Bingo, Honey and I were bushed from a long day, some hunger on my part, and the dreaded flight home the next morning that had us out the door at 6:30 AM, on a timeline 3 hours earlier than our bodies were used to. We had a quick bite at Hu Kitchen– OMG! a Paleo/Primal restaurant!!! (Definitely going back there!)– and went back to home base to crash one last time in the city that never sleeps.

Overall it was a lovely wedding, a wonderful trip, and honestly one of the best visits I’ve ever had in my life to New York City. I am definitely grateful for the memories.

Main Photo by Tricia Baron